I Know…. Sounds Painful…
Today, I found some amazing articles on copyright and trademark. Basically IP.
One pretty amazing article was on copyright, bad agents and lawyers, really bad contracts, divorce, and more twists and turns than anyone will be able to figure out because of all the stupidity over the decades. It concerned the Tom Clancy’s estate and Jack Ryan. I am not going to link to it because the copyright and trademark concepts in it will just give anyone who is not a copyright junkie the wrong ideas.
A second court case article was posted about Dwight Yoakam suing Warner Brothers for continuing to sell his songs. Actually, he’s suing them for copyright infringement because he filed the 35 year return of rights and got his songs back, but then Warner Brothers just kept on selling them. Oops.
A lot of smart musicians and comic artists are using the 35 year termination rule to get work back. Writers, not so much yet. (No surprise, there.) You can google the case if you want to read about it. Pretty simple one.
A third case is about Buck Rogers and the two studios who are in development stages of different Buck Rogers shows. One even has George Clooney attached. This is another complex one full of stupidity and greed and more IP and contracts than you can shake a stick at. Buck Rogers was created by writer Philip Frances Nowlan in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D.
It appeared in Amazing in August 1928, but Nowlan estate did not renew the copyright on the original novella and it dropped into the public domain.
But a man by the name of Dille was approached by Nolan in 1928 and that lead to the serialization of Buck Rogers into Sunday comics in 1929, then books, television series and so on and so on over the decades. More than you can even imagine. It seems Dille got ahold of the control in some fashion or another back then.
The Dille Family Trust claims ownership of the character because of the comics and such, and they are one of the parties in the modern suit. They also filed for bankruptcy at some point over the years making things even crazier. Don’t even bother to try to understand this one and who is who and why things are happening unless you have studied trademark and copyright for years. It will just make your head hurt. At some point someone will pay money to other people and maybe one of the shows will be made.
So I know most of you reading this have little-to-no understanding of copyright and can’t seem to make the time to learn even the basics, but let me tell you, the three battles I just gave you a brief (and incomplete) glimpse of constitute millions and millions of dollars in IP.
And like Nolan, you just never know when your little story might still be being fought over 93 years later.