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Question about Public Domain Comic Book Heroes
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Thread: Question about Public Domain Comic Book Heroes

  1. #1

    Question Question about Public Domain Comic Book Heroes

    I am a big fan of Project Superpowers, and I am also looking forward to the 3 spin-off comics, but I have a few questions about Public Domain Comic Book Heroes.

    1. What does Public Domain mean?

    2. How does a comic series become part of the Public Domain?

    3. How can a comic book company get and use Public Domain super heroes?

    4. Does anyone own the rights to the Public Domain super heroes, or are they free to be used by any comic book company?

    5. What happens to the guys who first made the Public Domain super heroes? Do they get some kind of commission every time their creations/ideas are used by other comic book companies?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Let's see if I can answer these...
    Quote Originally Posted by 1980's Man

    1. What does Public Domain mean?
    Public Domain basically means public property. Things in the Public Domain are there for anyone to use.

    2. How does a comic series become part of the Public Domain?
    Comic books and characters (and movies, tv shows, books, songs, etc.) that either were not copyrighted or had their copyrights expire fall into Public Domain. In the case of comics and characters, a bunch of companies went out of business in the Golden Age (Nedor, Fox Features, Lev Gleason, Columbia, etc.) and their copyrights were either never filed or never renewed. Those stories and characters are now Public Domain.

    3. How can a comic book company get and use Public Domain super heroes?
    All they have to do is use them. There are no permissions neccessary. Anyone can either reprint the original material or create new stories with the characters. The only catch being that they have to base their versions on THE ORIGINAL GOLDEN AGE CHARACTERS. They cannot take the Superpowers version of Black Terror and use him. The can tweak the original character, but they cannot infringe on other people's variations.

    4. Does anyone own the rights to the Public Domain super heroes, or are they free to be used by any comic book company?
    No one owns the rights to (again) THE ORIGINAL GOLDEN AGE CHARACTERS. Dynamite owns the Project Superpowers versions. Alan Moore & company own the Terra Obscura versions. Marvel owns the Malibu Protectors versions. The original versions are free for anyone to use and make their own new alterations too.

    5. What happens to the guys who first made the Public Domain super heroes? Do they get some kind of commission every time their creations/ideas are used by other comic book companies?
    I don't know how many of the original creators are still with us, but no. Public Domain means public. Anyone can use it. L. Frank Baum does not get any money from each new printing of The Wizard of Oz - that book is now Public Domain. The Three Stooges do not get money for every $1.00 DVD featuring Disorder in the Court and Brideless Groom - those shorts are Public Domain. Mozart doesn't get money for all those CDs of his music - it's Public Domain. I do wish the original creators would at least get some recognition, but in a lot of cases, the true creators aren't even known. Various people would work together under a single pseudonym, and records were not always well kept as to who worked on what - although Will Eisner worked on a lot of them.
    I hope that helps.

  3. #3

    Default

    Cool, thanks for the info. So, if I wanted to make a comic about Golden Age Black Terror and make him more like Batman and not the Superpowers version, then that would be O.K.?

  4. #4
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    Just make sure your version doesn't infringe on the Superpowers version, the Terra Obscura version, or the AC Comics version. (There may be others, but those are all I know for sure.) As long as you do that, you should be fine. Trademark may become an issue (if you intended to call your comic 'Black Terror') - I don't know much in that department, however.
    Last edited by MadMikeyD; 08-10-2008 at 01:25 AM.

  5. #5

    Talking

    Great, thanks again for answering my questions. And just to let you know, I am not planning on makeing a Black Terror comic, I was just useing it as an example.

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