View Full Version : Copyright Issues
03-07-2012, 06:09 AM
I've been doing research on the children's party entertainment industry, and I've been surprised just how many professional entertainers impersonate copyrighted characters, such as the Disney Princesses(which includes Ariel, of course, so this is a mermaiding issue!), and wondering how they manage to not got shut down by Disney's and other corporation's copyright lawyers. Some try to step around copyrights by having disclaimers on their websites explaining that their characters are generic and that they don't represent any corporation, calling them euphemistic names like "The Tower Princess"(Rapunzel), "The Glass Slipper Princess"(Cinderella), and of course "Mermaid Princess"(Ariel), and making sure there are at least slight differences in their costumes from the official costumed characters', but still, it's very obvious who they're supposed to represent, and knowing how strict Disney can be with their intellectual property rights, I can't for the life of me understand why they haven't "released the hounds" on some of these companies. Now, just to clarify, I've always had issues with Disney's strict stance on copyright protection, as I fail to see the harm painting Mickey and Minnie on the walls of daycare centers does, and it makes then look like hypocrites every time they're accused of copying someone else's idea(like the whole thing with Kimba the White Lion vs. The Lion King, etc.), so I am not personally advocated for these Princess Party companies to be shut down, I'm just curious if there's anyone here who can shine some light on this issue and explain, if you ever perform as Ariel or any other licensed character, how you get around copyrights, and what is and isn't legal.
Oh, a question for all pro mermaids, how often do you get requests to appear as Ariel or any other licensed character, and do you do it?
03-07-2012, 07:17 AM
Well the thing about copyright and patent is that if you're not doing it exactly the same then they no longer have a hold. If you take a patented something or other and change ONE thing about it, even a tiny insignificant detail, then the original owner can't claim patent rights on the slightly different product. That's how there are SO many rip offs, generics, ect of everything. As far as I know it's the same with copyright. Although I could be wrong that's the way I understood it. You better not let them catch you singing any of their songs for a prophet. As I recall, 7 consecutive notes of copyrighted music is all you can sing or play without exposure to legal liability. I'm sure for some entertainment companies they walk a tight rope on all the details to keep out of trouble.
03-07-2012, 07:19 AM
Doesn't Traci Hines and the other performers of True Enchantment Entertainment sing Disney songs at children's parties?
03-07-2012, 08:19 AM
Probably, she is a professional singer. Well either they paid to be able to do that, or they're taking their chance and hoping that Disney won't notice. As long as you don't put it on the net or advertise it, they don't really have a way to track that down.
03-07-2012, 02:22 PM
I know there are some companies who pay big $$ to have the rights to licensed characters. I, myself, network with one such company. When people call, wanting a princess at their party, they are given two options: They can have me, myself, appear as a generic princess, fairy, or gypsy for $100/hr, or you can have actual princesses appear for $250/hr.
That's a reflection of the price difference for safely using licensed characters. It is true that things can be changed, freeing you from the copyright restrictions. I see this a lot when we are making balloon characters. In fact, some of those same names - Glass Slipper Princess, etc, are used when kids ask us to make Cinderella, and others. So long as there are differences, even slight, and so long as the character is not called whatever name they are copying, they are free from any copyright issues.
03-07-2012, 04:22 PM
Wow. Copywriting is confusing. And basically whatever your idea is,even if it's copywrited, someone can still steal your idea by changing their name and (Tail) color?! That bites...
Tail was used as example
Aren't the traditional princesses within the public domain? Like, the little mermaid, Cinderella, and Rapunzel are all old folk stories so no one should be able to copyright them.
03-07-2012, 06:24 PM
The problem with traditional princesses like Rapunzel and what not, is that the version people want at their party is the Disney version. You can have a princess named Rapunzel, but she can't look exactly like the Disney princess Rapunzel. etc.
The rule is, if the name was written in a book, such as Cinderella, I can be used and can not be copyrighted by Disney. If it is something that they created, they can. The look of the disney caracters can not be copyrighted, but can be trade marked. Capt Jack is a major no no. It is not only owned by Disney but by Johnny Depp as well. That one will get you into some real trouble. But the story of the little mermaid has been around for quite some time and should be fine. I would just concern your self with Trade Mark rather than copyright
03-07-2012, 08:22 PM
it's different in the states and Canada too, a little more liberal with it here. But still close.
03-07-2012, 10:02 PM
I also asked pro mers if they've had requests to appear as Ariel and not their own mersona, and whether or not they do so.
03-07-2012, 11:32 PM
As a library science student, copyright is one of the major things we've studied in the class.
First of all, I'm not sure there was every actually any lawsuits over the Lion King similarities... and some of the duplicate images, such as a deceased father figure appearing in clouds in the sky, the names of the protagonists, and so forth are perfectly reasonable (what do almost all depictions of ghosts look like? Clouds).
Secondly, there is a great deal of leeway built into fair use and educational use of copyrighted figures. These are pretty clearly spelled out in a lot of cases, and they've been subjects of a great deal of study. In most cases, if you're unclear, you can find out what you are and are not allowed to do by asking your local librarian (or lawyer).
Third, artists and businesses make money off their images, and there is nothing wrong with encouraging kids to exercise their imaginations using illustrated/painted characters who aren't copies of Disney property. Mermaids are spectacular enough to see live without flirting with copyright charges, and not every mermaid has to be a redhead with a green tail. For those who are redheaded green-tailed ones, it is infinitely better to form one's own personality (and really, nobody would want a character who acted like the real disney little mermaid to come to a birthday party... Ariel was kind of a brat).
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