Filmmaking / Directing : Does Copyright Protect Film Characters? by David M. Adler

David M. Adler

Does Copyright Protect Film Characters?

Lawsuit alleges that idea for “Ted” the foul-mouthed bear was stolen

Marci Urling

All I know is that this case is rip for litigation. There is not a bright line distinction for whether film characters are copyrightable. The courts will use a balancing test. We'll see how this unfolds.

Oriel Kerr

This is interesting.

Boomer Murrhee

From the article it appears that the more specifically described the character is, the easier to afford protection under current copyright laws. This will be interesting to see where the line is drawn.

Chris Tremblay

I always thought the story and the especially the characters were protected under the copyright law but not the title.

Robert Broad

There is a difference between characters in a story as compared to trademarked characters. All the Disney, Star Wars, StarTrek, etc characters are also trademarked which gives added benefits when merchandising becomes part of the equation. So I would suggest having a quick chat with Brandi Thomas.

Geoff Harris

An interesting case, I would have thought that every character has an origin and was created by someone, so some kind of unlawful, 'copying' of that character can be shown. Princesses, incidentally are too generic to be shown to be 'copied' whereas Princess Laia, clearly could be. The point of this case seems to be how specifically the original character was defined and how similar TED is to him. It'll be an interesting outcome, I would think there could be shown to be similarities, just depends on how close the judge deems the two character to be. It may not even be intentional copying, just coincidence, some thing else I'm sure will be considered.

Blair Winders

There's precedent in copyright law that says that characters are copyrightable but archetypes are not. So, a prideful lion that is the king of the beasts is not copyrightable but Simba or Mufasa are. One of the biggest cases on the issue was the Disney v. Air Pirates case.

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