Protecting The Artists? Disney's Marvel Uses Copyright To Crush Already Broke Ghost Rider Creator

from the how-nice dept

Five years ago, we wrote about Gary Friedrich, the creator of the comic book character Ghost Rider, and how he was suing tons of companies, claiming that the copyrights associated with Ghost Rider had reverted back to him in 2001. As we noted at the time, there were some questionable things about his lawsuit -- including the fact that he waited years until after a movie and video game had been created and released before suddenly going legal about it. However, apparently Marvel (owned by Disney), in its ultimate vindictiveness, turned around and countersued Friedrich and won, leading to a ridiculous situation: Friedrich, who is broke, is now supposed to pay Marvel $17,000 for Ghost Rider merchandise he had sold in the past. He also isn't supposed to say that he's the co-creator of Ghost Rider any more if saying so involves him getting any kind of commercial advantage.

The full ruling in the case makes it clear that Friedrich's copyright claims were suspect in the first place, as it appears he clearly handed over the copyrights on the character to Marvel. The legal stipulation covers the specific terms, including the $17k payment, and the injunction against using the words "Ghost Rider" in connection with the sale of any goods, merchandise or services (i.e., "pay to get the signature of the creator of Ghost Rider!").

While Friedrich appears to have clearly overreached in his initial claim, the vindictiveness of Marvel/Disney is pretty ridiculous here. There's simply no reason for the company to demand $17k from a broke Friedrich, and (on top of that) make it that much harder for him to actually earn the money to pay them. As some are pointing out, you should remember this story the next time big companies claim they want to strengthen copyright law to "protect the content creators."

Filed Under: artists, comics, copyright, gary friedrich, ghost rider
Companies: disney, marvel


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  1. icon
    Spaceboy (profile), 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "He can say it, but he cannot TRADE on it - that is a difference."

    It's no difference to an 'artist'. If he can't say he created Ghost Rider at a comic book convention then where else is he going to say it? If he says it on his website, and that website generates cash, do you honestly believe Disney will leave him alone?

    As for the Lion King...of course it's not the same work. Tezuka's work was done decades before the Lion King came out. I know because I grew up with it and remember watching it as a young boy. I watched it and other shows like Ultraman, Johnny Sokko, Starblazers and Marine Boy - as did millions of other children. Some of those children grew up and even went to work at Disney...The similarities between the two are staggering. But since we're talking about Disney and a Japanese production company, I guess it's okay.

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