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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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Re:

    No, you're off base on this one. It may seem harsh, but all the guy was doing was fishing for money with lawyers. Sounds like they're recovering just a portion of their legal costs, so totally fair game.


    Maybe he was, maybe he wasn't, this isn't the point of the article. As many commenters have said above, copyright law is usually justified by its lobbyists as necessary for artists to get paid for their creations, especially so if they're very successful. We invoke the image of an artist who doesn't see a penny while millions of people enjoy his work to promote copyright/fight piracy, and yet this is exactly what happens once we have copyright laws installed. While it is true that the artist in question might have acted greedy under the current copyright law, it makes you wonder whether it should be there in the first place.

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