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Subj: Re: Bad luck
Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 at 09:01:57 am EDT (Viewed 61 times)
Reply Subj: Bad luck
Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 at 06:52:37 am EDT (Viewed 70 times)
Quote:I remain unconvinced, but then I guess neither of us is knowledgeable enough in US copyright law to go beyond belief.
Quote:Indeed, I am more familiar with French "droit d'auteur" than with common law. Still, both in US courts & French courts, the judge's decision is based upon the perception of originality. Also, currently, in France, an author has to be careful not only about the French law but also the common law because more often than none, American franchises are protected internationally. French courts recognize the international protection of intellectual property (contrary to some Asian countries). For example: Lockout (2012)
My impression is that laws in Europe are more strict than in America. I got that from the way Albert Uderzo came down like a tonne of bricks on all parodies of "Asterix", and usually quite successfully. AFAIK, DC apparently did not even try this to a noticeable extent, e.g. in the cases of the parodies of their superheroes in early issues of MAD.
Quote:Still, building a case doesn't mean that I would necessarily win. It means that I consider that I could win.
Quote:As for the Black Cat, I'd say she was sufficiently different from Catwoman to not be considered a rip-off. She had this bad-luck power thing. She came from a different social background, and her characterization and motivation was different. She was younger, less mature, more "innocent" than Selina Kyle. In her first outing she was a daddy's girl who wanted to break her cat burglar father out of prison, in her second one she behaved like a giddy schoolgirl with a crush, and her primary reason for committing crimes was to attract Spider-Man's attention. By comparison, Selina Kyle was a much older and experienced woman and quite a hardened criminal. In some stories from the 1970s (i.e. shortly before the Black Cat's debut) she even committed murders (which were later explained away as having happended on "Earth-B" because in the interim it had been decided that Catwoman doesn't kill). I'd say Felicia Hardy in her original characterization is much closer to Brigitte Auber's role in Alfred Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief" than to Catwoman. I don't seem to be the first one to have noticed this "French connection" - in Roger Stern's "The Daydreamers", Felicia imagines that Spider-Man beneath his mask is Cary Grant in his "To Catch a Thief" role (as John Robie a.k.a. the Cat)!
Quote:That's where we agreed to disagree.
Quote:You focus on the actual differences between the two characters.
I focused on the perceived similarity.
These cases are rarely clear-cut.
Quote:In the cases of Superman, the Joker & Catwoman, it is even more difficult precisely because they are the iconic incarnation of an archetype: the superman, the killer clown, the female cat burglar.
I would say that even the stress on Catwoman's femininity would not go unchallenged in court. One can argue that since her beginnings she is merely a distaff example of the already long-established Gentleman Thief genre (Arsène Lupin, Raffles etc.). After all, it would not have been possible to get out of a plagiarism suit re. Superman merely by making your Superman rip-off a woman.
Not that Superman's and the Joker's claims to originality are unassailable. People have noted e.g. certain similarities between Clark Kent, the Man of Steel, and Clark Savage Jr., the Man of Bronze. And there were plenty of killer clowns before the Joker, notably two operatic ones , Rigoletto (based on a Victor Hugo novel) and Canio from "I Pagliacci" (based, according to Leoncavallo, on a case from real life).(1) The case for the Joker being original is not exactly strengthened when you recall that he was modeled on Conrad Veidt in the title role of "The Man Who Laughs" (based on another Hugo novel).
(1) That opera became the inspiration for the Spirit villain Palyachi, the Killer Clown, who debuted in July 1940, not long after the Joker's first appearance.
Quote:Yup, but that case was eventually settled out of court because Fawcett decided that because the bottom had dropped out of the superhero comics market it was no longer economically worthwhile to continue to appeal in court. They decided to cut their losses and shut down their superhero publication division entirely.
Quote:Of course here (and in the case of Wonder Man) DC/National had a much higher stake in the matter, as it concerned what they considered rip-offs of one of their flagship characters. (And to add insult to injury, there were times when Captain Marvel outsold Superman). Compared to that, ripping off one of Batman's several antagonists was small potatoes. And when you consider how many characters could be considered rip-offs of other characters (Aquaman comes to mind), it really is noticeable how few plagiarism suits there actually were.
Quote:Yes but these examples reinforce my point of view and my different arguments.
Quote:That's the difficulty of these cases. There is a part of subjectivity involved that some people can consider totally unfair. It depends how people perceive originality.
Quote:Still, I also know that it would be useless to have the same approach nowadays. Back then, Superman was a novelty. Currently, there are a lot of Superman knockoffs around and DC Comics couldn't use the same arguments.
Quote:I know that, back then, there was a higher stake in the matter since Superman was one of their top sellers.
Quote:It is compatible with my previous comment about the evolution of the comics market. Publishers don't want anymore to engage long lawsuits. There are only two main companies left and people know too well each other. It is no longer a competitive market but an oligopoly.
But that would not have stopped one of the big two from crushing smaller publishers in court. Yet that did not happen e.g. in the case of the Paragon Press version of Phantom Lady (renamed Blue Bulleteer after DC threatened a lawsuit).
Quote:For example Marv Wolfman worked for Marvel in 1979 and DC in 1980. Would DC have been stupid enough to attack one of their top writers simply because of Black Cat when at the same time he was working for them on New Teen Titans?
Quote:I am aware of Marv Wolfman's explanation: he thought about a Tex Avery character with a bad luck power, not about Catwoman.
Quote:The problem is that there is a lot of ambiguity about the bad luck power in Black Cat's first appearances...
Quote:When I started reading Spidey, it was already revealed/retconned as a trick, especially after she had been hurted by Doc Ock.
Well, that happened after Wolfman left the book, so it may easily contradict his vision of the character.
Quote:And, then to make things even more complicated, Kingpin actually gave her the bad luck power only to have it removed by Dr. Strange later on.
Quote:Also, Dave Cockrum had already imagined an African mutant named Black Cat for the X-Men book. She had a shapeshifting power. But they (fortunately) created Storm instead.
The way I read it (in Dave Cockrum's interview in The X-Men Companion I (Fantagraphics 1982)), Storm is an amalgam of this Black Cat and another Cockrum creation - originally pitched for the Legion of Superheroes - called Typhoon. In Dave Cockrum's original vision, this Black Cat's powers were very similar to Wolfsbane's (Rahne was of course created several years later), except feline, not canine.
Speaking of Storm, her co-creator Len Wein had a very different vision of Ororo (as more of an ageless goddess figure) and was quite vocal in his 1982 interview that he disliked the way Chris Claremont foisted Modesty Blaise's origin story on her...
Quote:It it quite funny: if Marv Wolfman & Dave Cockrum had made Black Cat a mutant with a bad luck power instead of a sexy cat burglar, I think that nobody would have wasted their time comparing Black Cat with Catwoman.
Quote:So,... bad luck?
(At the same time, when Black Cat had the bad luck power, Scarlet Witch noticed that their powere were very similar...)
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