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Interesting Copyright Infringement

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  limburger 1 month ago.

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    Artist Thwacked for Conan the Barbarian Infringement

    This basically sums up 95% of miniature companies. Would be interesting to see where this goes in the future and how strict they want to be. Are they going to start cracking down on influences?

    The new PP minicrate is a breach so are the GW nids. CMON, Reaper, all of them could be in trouble. Where is the line?



    Yes indeed, this is a very interesting decision.

    Gonna take a few reads over this as there is a lot to unpack…



    Interesting. I struggle to see how they can copyright anything more substantive that the names used in the books. The generic ‘Barbarian’ figure, minus the Conan name, seems a nebulous thing to try and assert copyright over.

    No doubt the devil is in the detail, so will need someone to dig through the full ruling to work out what it really means 🙂



    Interesting I would suggest that the fact that the minis have been directly modelled to look like approved art work of Conan is the issue. If he had completely changed the sculpture and then called them a Barbarian figure then it would have been ok. Or if he had just sculpted the figure and not called it Conan in the first place he would have got away with it. But because he linked it to Conan it will always have that association.



    Calling it Conan was bad judgement from they part because otherwise they could had gotten away from it.



    Not really a problem if they are based outside the USA.



    It will probably still affect their business (if any) inside the USA though.

    Given that it looks almost exactly like the cover art I would have expected the artist to sue instead.

    Or is the image tied directly to the Conan universe so as to make no difference in court ?
    Is commissioned art a special exception ?



    The artist may not own the rights. It all depends on the contract.

    It is clear from reading this article that the sculptor thought that Conan was (or should be) public domain. The models have nearly identical poses to the art and the use, at least initially, of the actual names was a clear attempt to cash in on copyrighted material (regardless of if he thought it should be public domain).

    Is the copyright law that different in Europe?



    Being outside the US may not save the guy as Spain has bilateral agreements with the US.

    The name of something is covered by trademark, not by copyright, and you can’t avoid copyright infringement just by changing the name.



    You can’t copyright an idea or concept but you can copyright a Universe/Setting eg. 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. He doesn’t own the concept of a Barbarian but he does own the concept of this particular Barbarian. GW doesn’t have a Copyright on Rat-Men but they do have a copyright on Skaven.

    As @mecha82 said the guy was directly ripping off artwork and making money advertising it as Conan which is what got him in trouble. I doubt this will hurt anyone like Unreleased Miniatures who are careful when making minis.

    The reason GW won’t get in trouble for Nids is that they didn’t start advertising about how these new minis are the bugs from Starship Troopers and they didn’t just directly rip them off they created a whole Universe then created the Nids within it.



    @redben I guess that’s why in everything that Mythic have done with Solomon Kane you have stressed that it’s all been approved 🙂



    We pay a royalty to the owner in exchange for their explicitly granted permission to use the character and stories in a game.





    You can’t copyright anything, only claim ownership of it. Unlike trademarks and patents which need to be registered, copyright is an inherent right granted to creative works purely by virtue of their creation. It only covers elements of the work which can be considered original, lasts for a fixed period of time, and can be transferred by the owner to another party. As the name suggests, it is literally the right to make copies and only the copyright holder and those they grant permission to have the right to make any copies of the original work. This includes across creative formats and is why you have to have permission from Joanne Rowling to make Harry Potter movie, or a range of Harry Potter miniatures, even though her creative works were in a different creative format. You don’t need her permission to do a movie about a boarding school for wizards as that is not original to her work. The specific expression of it is original and you do need permission to copy that.

    What’s most interesting about this story is that the license holder chose to pursue. This is a small industry in which this practice has often either evaded detection or been too small to bother with. It in turn has created the erroneous opinion amongst many in the industry that there is nothing wrong with doing it. Either because they can change the names and it won’t be infringement, or that making miniatures from other people’s art or stories is fine and should not be infringement.



    but at what point does a story about a student wizard become Harry Potter ?

    There has to be some sort of line that needs crossing, but then … maybe that’s the problem with these kinds of disputes ?

    A barbarian with a sword doesn’t have to be Conan, but there’s got to be an intermediate somewhere that triggers the dispute.

    OTOH … this could lead to people creating totally-not Conan copies that technically aren’t copies but everyone else knows they are without invoking the parody excemption.

    A Schrodingers’ cat copy as it were.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  limburger.


    I thought Conan, like Cthulhu, was now public domain since the authors died so long ago?

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