Copyrightability of characters.

of characters.
Evangelina Vasila
International Summer Seminar
‘Copyright in motion’
Paris 2012
Characters have become
part of our everyday lifes.
Characters are the creations of artists:
•They use their imagination to clothe the idea.
•They labour so as to give the idea an expression.
In our modern business world,
the commercial exploitation of such characters
is a huge and profitable Industry.
But at what time does a character
becomes entitled to legal protection?
Forms of legal protection:
•Copyright law
•Trademark law
•The law of unfair competition
This presentation is limited
to the availability of copyright
protection of characters.
Graphical or
Both graphical
and Literary
Protecting Graphic Characters
•No copyright protection as an ‘artistic work.’
•Protection offered only to visual expression.
Landmark cases
1)Detective Comics V Bruns Publication (Superman case)
2)Walt Disney V Air Pirate
3)Nichols V Universal Pictures
Wrap-up points concerning the protection
of graphical characters:
•Character’s uniqueness only can be protected: a name, physical appearance and
attitude or character’s traits.
•In order to confirm uniqueness:
1)We check out the visual similarities.
2)We apply the character delineation test.
• So, the character has to be so unique, that any other creature with similar
characteristics would remind the viewers of the original character.
Protecting fictional characters
•A literary work is entitled to protection for the purposes of intellectual
•Should this protection be extended to fictional characters?
•Legally significant components to determine protection: name, physical
or visual appearance, physical attributes and personality traits.
Landmark cases
1)Anderson V Stallone (Rocky case)
2)Warner Brothers Pictures V Columbia (ET case)
Wrap-up points concerning the protection
of fictional characters:
•If the physical and emotional features are depicted
in tremendous detail, the character is not copyrightable.
•If the character is extremely well-delineated ,
as to constitute ‘the story being told’ is not copyrightable.
•Copyright over the character independently or
over the episodes he appears?
•When the character is created in the course of
employment, the copyright remains to the creator?
Sources of Copyright law in the European Union
concerning the protection of characters.
1.National copyright legislation of every european state.
2.The International Convention of Berne ‘for the protection of Literary and
Artistic Works’.
3.The Universal Copyright Convention ( UCC) of
4.The international conventions that every state has ratified.
Conclusions concerning EU legislation
•The characters are not protected directlty and
exiplicitely in the EU legislation.
•The protection derives indirectly either as an
‘artistic work’, either as a literary work.
•The legislation leaves room for the courts to decide,
judging seperately every case.