META: Why I don't allow HeroMachine to be used for copyrighted characters

As frustrating as my brush with Marvel's legal department was years ago, the litigation wars are escalating much further, much faster.

Because this is (or at least, was) a business, I am in a much more tenuous legal position than you are as individuals. And yet, here's a case where a guy did some cool Wolverine sketches and had to hire a lawyer to keep Marvel from retroactively taking them for their own.

Make versions of copyrighted characters at your own risk, folks. But if you do, you can't post them here.

15 Responses to META: Why I don't allow HeroMachine to be used for copyrighted characters

  1. I copied this post onto the No Copyrighted Material Threads in the forum

  2. Listen, folks. You want HeroMachine to stay? Do what the man says.

  3. A very good example of the mess you can get in by using copyrighted material. Though the article you linked to makes it sound like Marvel’s fault, which it’s really not. The way copyrights laws are in the U.S., if a company DOESN’T react to even relatively minor infringement, it can be used againts them later on when they do need to defend their copyright. Basically, if Marvel doesn’t threaten legal action/demand ownership in small cases like this, they risk losing their ability to sue when someone decides to publish “Man-Spider: The Adventures Of Parker Peters”.

  4. I agree, copyrighted characters shouldnt be published onto the forums or the internet in general. Thats why a lot of us change the name and the main focus of our characters that way even if there is a similarity they dont look the same and arent the same.

  5. I’ve been meaning to ask a related question. I’m sure I recall seeing people post HM illustrations of characters they made up, but that were unmistakably based in the Star Wars universe, without incident. Is this the case across the board, or something that is determined on a universe-by-universe basis? If I post a picture of young wizards wearing Hogwarts colors but who are clearly not any of the people mentioned in the Harry Potter books, is that okay?

  6. I think that’s fine, Lime. I don’t think they can (yet) copyright a general look and feel kind of universe. I mean, who’s to say it’s a Star Wars character and not a general far-future science-fantasy place that happens to be similar in look?

    Our copyright laws are so freaking ridiculous, it drives me nuts. Soon you won’t be able to get artists to draw Spider-Man for you at conventions, which is a classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face by the big publishers. Now that they’re run by big, hyper-litigious companies like Disney, who are not interested in the characters or comics except as they can be used to promote movies, I think the industry is changed irrevocably. It’s not going to be fan-driven any more, it’s going to be driven by suits and by box office receipts.

    Which to me is both sad and self-defeating.

    Anyway, yes, I think as long as you’re not doing specific copyrighted characters and your’e not using copyrighted or trademarked names or logos, you’re fine.

    Well, actually YOU ALL would be fine no matter what, but I think *I* would be fine as well, since I’m the only one they’d likely go after if they took exception to something. I sincerely doubt they care about individual folks.

  7. So what we can make characters like wolverine for ourselves but just not post them here? I mean its not like were saying we came up with wolverine, if I did I need some serious back pay LOL. People draw characters from comics all the time I dont see what the big deal is so as long as you give credit to where the character came from.

  8. TOOL, what you do on your own time is up to you. I’ll note that the license agreement you agree to when using HM software stipulates that you’re not supposed to create copyrighted characters, but that if you do, you’re on your own.

  9. Okay I understand where your coming from but don’t totally get whats the difference if I draw a character for fun free hand or computer design one. It sounds a lot like the piracy laws to me, you can own a CD, burner and blank CD’s and burn a copy for your self or friend but god forbid you upload it to your computer and send it over the internet to a friend. Anyways…I had some art that falls into this problem catagory on my page so I hid them from viewers, only I can see them, would that be okay?

  10. TOOL: Okay I understand where your coming from but don’t totally get whats the difference if I draw a character for fun free hand or computer design one. It sounds a lot like the piracy laws to me, you can own a CD, burner and blank CD’s and burn a copy for your self or friend but god forbid you upload it to your computer and send it over the internet to a friend. Anyways…I had some art that falls into this problem catagory on my page so I hid them from viewers, only I can see them, would that be okay?

    Again … this only applies to me, as the maker of the program in question. As a fan, you’re in the clear, but as the person who made the program you’re using to create images of copyrighted characters, if I allow those to be posted in a place that I control, I become liable. They’re not going to go after you and what’s on your hard drive or hanging on your wall or on your web site, particularly if you’re not making money from it. I, however, am in a much more vulnerable position because I make the program and I am running a business with a much wider reach than yours.

    I don’t give a flying rat’s ass what you do on your own time or what you post on sites I don’t control. I just can’t allow them to be posted here, on my domain.

    This isn’t complicated.

  11. William Peterson

    DISNEY won’t go after ‘the little guy’? Jeff, don’t kid yourself! These are the guys who’ll rip the notebook out of your kid’s hands in the parking lot at Disneyworld, because he drew a copy of The Mouse!!!

  12. @Jeff, Didn’t mean to upset you, I know this is a irritable situation, I just wanted to make sure I got my duck in a row but I don’t want you to get into trouble either. I understand and am droppig it now.

  13. Sean Murphy (No Relation)

    This was a disconcerting article to read, given the name of the artist

  14. Sean Murphy (No Relation):
    This was a disconcerting article to read, given the name of the artist

    If it’s any consolation, on Star Trek Online, I created a bridge officer named Sean Murphy, no relation, either 😛 –and complete coincidence since I don’t even remember seeing you on here before (though I’m only on sporadically–dang schoolwork has taken up all my HM time).

  15. I think Marvel / Disney are arse’s…but I kinda understand why. As stated above, if they let the little stuff go, then it can be used against them later.

    Jeff, you are tremendously correct in your observation that this beloved medium and subsequent industry are being driven more by suits and box office sales than by the fans themselves.

    Its quite the double edge sword for us as a ‘comic community’. Do we go back to the ‘good ol days’ mired in purity and absentia OR do we put the very thing we love out there for all to see. In effect comercializing and watering down beloved stories and charecters. Purity is fine and well. I grew up in a time where reading a comic meant you were a geek and might get beat up for said social infraction. BUT…that purity was ours. If you pick the latter you almost have no choice but get large sums of money involved to do so, and where there is large sums of money there are larger suits handing it out with finely printed strings attched.

    Alas, in a nutshell I get it…Don’t re-create other peoples stuff on this page.