Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
The Courts Transportation

Pow! With Supreme Court Rebuff, DC Comics Wins Batmobile Copyright Case (newsoxy.com) 176

New submitter Mr. Competence writes: The U.S. Supreme court has declined to review a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court declaring that 'the Batmobile is a character that qualifies for copyright protection.' The case involved Mark Towle, a California man who produced replicas of the Batmobile for car-collecting fans of the caped crusader; selling them for about $90,000US each. The original would cost a bit more.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pow! With Supreme Court Rebuff, DC Comics Wins Batmobile Copyright Case

Comments Filter:
  • The caped crusader (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2016 @06:22AM (#51657877)
    Fighting for truth, justice, and extension of copyright law.
    • DC Comics #521 THE PIRATE BAY CONQUERS GOTHAM! Will our own Caped Crusader be able to defeat the villainous plans of The Pirate Bay? Purchase to find out!!!! batman_comics_521.torrent DOWNLOAD
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You wouldn't download a Batmobile.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Like hell I wouldn't. I never understood that commercial. "You wouldn't download a car!" Oh, hell yes I would.

    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      Batman didn't maintain his billions of dollars by just sitting on his ass, ya'know!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Truer words were never spoken crusader

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2016 @09:07AM (#51658281)

    Since it's rather hard to prove he was ultimately damaging the image for the organization who owns the rights to Batman and associated representation, I find this ruling senseless. Regardless of copyright fine print, he was making these for diehard fans, and actually perpetuating the brand. If he was a salesman working for DC Comics making these things right now he would likely be earning a decent salary plus bonuses for the car sales.

    So, instead of hiring the guy to work for DC Comics and further perpetuate the image, they choose to legally rape him along with their most hardcore fan base. America once again proves there's nothing like using the law to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Welcome to our future. Where Capitalism will be raped by senseless laws instead of working together to benefit all.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      They probably argued that it devalued their own replica cars, which they totally might build some day maybe. Never mind that they don't make them, what's important is that some potential future profit was lost.

      • They probably argued that it devalued their own replica cars, which they totally might build some day maybe. Never mind that they don't make them, what's important is that some potential future profit was lost.

        OK, so argue against future profits you could have made right now by hiring the guy who likely is smart enough to build profit into his creations that represent the brand accurately and fairly.

        Gun, meet foot.

    • The problem with having to prove damages is that it's almost impossible. That's why we often have statutory penalties. If it were necessary to prove an actual loss, a big corporate could run roughshod over a small creator and simply argue that the small business wouldn't have made a lot of money anyway. We assign certain rights to creators. It may be that the pendulum has swung too far in one direction in terms of how long we grant those rights. But requiring proof of damages would do nothing to solve
      • The problem with having to prove damages is that it's almost impossible.

        Could they prove a profit fairly easily instead by hiring the guy who built the creations?

        The answer is likely yes. How quickly we forget the point of Capitalism.

        Gun, meet foot.

        • Perhaps. And this might be the smart thing for them to do. However, what would be smart for this one company to do is not the same as what laws we should have. We should IMHO *want* to protect small creators from those who are bigger and have more resources in order to promote proliferation of culture. As small creators have no profit to speak of, if we require proof of damages, we essentially take away their ability to seek redress when their creations are misappropriated. Although it may be a good id
    • Or they could work out some licensing deal with the guy for a nominal fee- this would help protect their copyright and the guy could continue to make cool cars.
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        This was my first thought -- just sell the guy a license to make the replicas, the same way they would charge a toymaker to make toy replicas of the Batmobile. Given the price he charges, I'm sure his buyers have an expectation of detail and quality that goes way beyond what DC Comics would expect of any toymaker and probably matching what would be expected out of a big budget Hollywood production.

        And maybe they did, but the terms were so onerous that the finished product wouldn't be economically viable.

        • Why would they want to risk liability for accidents and deaths? After all, if they licensed the design, how are they not partially liable?
          • by swb ( 14022 )

            The design they would license would be the visual design, not the engineering. I would wager that any licensing agreement would be language making the licensee responsible for the engineering safety and possibly even requiring end buyers to also sign a waiver agreeing to hold DC comics harmless for any flaws in the vehicle's mechanical safety and reliability.

            It wouldn't surprise me at all if there was already a ton of precedent for this in civil case law if not actual statutes governing this. Car customiz

            • If you can be ordered to pay out $5 billion to compensate one family, none of whom died, because a drunk driver slammed into the back of their 14-year-old car [www.cbc.ca], anything is possible.

              When Apple sells a defective power cord that was made by someone else under license, it's Apple that is on the hook for the $$$, even though they didn't make it. Licensing deals will always get you dragged into a case - that's what lawyers, at least the competent ones, do.

              Also, since a licensing deal for the visual design for u

    • Since it's rather hard to prove he was ultimately damaging the image for the organization who owns the rights to Batman and associated representation,

      That is an argument that you'd make for a fair-use defense. This was a ruling on whether the car was copyrightable. And apparently it is copyrightable, which isn't surprising since even a squiggle on a paper is copyrightable.

      So now he can try raising a fair-use defense (unless he's already done so, the article doesn't mention).

  • China will win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2016 @09:12AM (#51658303)

    This is why China will beat us:

    - Cost of designing something - rapidly falling due to better CAD technology, improved manufacturing techniques.

    - Cost of making something - rapidly falling due to improved manufacturing and robotics.

    - Cost of determining whether your rounded rectangle is sufficiently different from someone else's - the sky is the limit.

    We created an industrial base that reduced real scarcity to amazingly low levels, and now we are taking the things with no natural resource limit (ideas) and are busy creating as much scarcity out of them as possible. My only hope is that when we tell our grandchildren's generation how this works, they will not believe anyone could be that stupid.

    • China isn't every going to beat us and that seems to be a boogeyman. Even if we have a few bad regulations, we have free flow of information. If the ministry of information puts out that X kg of some rare earth was mined last year and I build a business around it only to find out it's not true, I go bankrupt. You can't have a competitive economy while information is stifled. The Chinese companies are forced to work with fabricated government information while US companies have access to real information
    • No way, China has serious problems and would trade places with America in a heartbeat. They suffer the same problem that all leftist regimes do - they cannot allow their people to think freely, because to do so would be their own end. Taking the capitalist road to achieve socialism has bought them another couple of decades in power, but the rising prosperity has masked serious structural problems in China. Now that the prosperity is drying up, all their weaknesses will be exposed. They ain't gonna beat
      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

        They suffer the same problem that all leftist regimes do - they cannot allow their people to think freely, because to do so would be their own end.

        Rightist regimes do the same, speak out against their favorite corp sponsor, don't be surprised if laid off or some other consequence.

      • And the US doesn't have serious problems? China is expecting growth of "only" 6.7% this year. Most of the world would kill to have that much growth.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nospAm.nerdflat.com> on Tuesday March 08, 2016 @11:11AM (#51658931) Journal
    This is terrible news for anyone who makes unofficial replica film props.... I imagine that next year's comic-con costumes are going to be a bit plainer than they have been in a while.
  • There have been different Batmobiles throughout the history of the comic and movies
    My favorite is the Adam West one from the late 60's
    I saw one of those in real life at a Con a few years back.
    Anyway who are they going to sue next - tool companies that make utility belts?

    • There have been different Batmobiles throughout the history of the comic and movies

      I'll admit, that has my curious.

      If you look here [tumblr.com], for example, you will see various versions of the Batmobile.

      So is it the issue that this person is making his own "Batmobiles"? If he made really cool-looking cars but didn't market them as "Batmobiles", would that make a difference?

  • DC Comics v. Towle [documentcloud.org] at first appears to add to a slippery slope that would eventually see all car designs as copyrightable the moment they roll off an assembly line or a garage.

    But, a closer reading of the decision seem to show that what's at issue isn't the shape of the car so much as the names it is marketed under. The 9th Circuit built their opinion atop Halicki Films, LLC v. Sanderson Sales & Mktg. [findlaw.com] , to wit "an automotive character [Eleanor] may be copyrightable even if it appears as a yellow Fas

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to work.

Working...