Copyrightability of characters. Evangelina Vasila CERDI 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 pictorial characters Literary characters Both graphical and Literary characters 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 property. •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. Questions •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 Geneva. 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.