Re: Copyrighted characters name issue
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Posted by M Arthur Auslander on October 09, 2002 at 00:16:13:
In Reply to: Copyrighted characters name issue posted by Petter Holmberg on October 07, 2002 at 06:17:12:
: I've recently seen registered copyrights of characters used in works of fiction, where the author wants to protect the use of a fictional character with certain recognizable traits from use by others. Some people I've talked to claims that if someone else still wanted to use such a character without permission in another work, all that would be required to "sneak around" the copyright laws would be to change the name of such a character. However, copyright laws claims that a name itself cannot be copyrighted, which seems perfectly logical. Therefore it appears to me that the name of a copyrighted fictional character would be totally irrelevant in legal terms, and that this implies that a name change actually would not change this from STILL being a copyright infringement. Is this so? (Assume in this case that every single copyrighted character trait except for the original name would be used, and that the character would be put in a context that made it absolutely clear without a doubt that it actually is the original character the other author refers to.)
: If I'm wrong in this assumption, what is the explanation? Could it be that a name actually can be a part of a copyright when it is connected to a set of other character traits, meaning that a simple name change would effectively make it another character in legal terms?
Dear Mr. Holmberg.
The law has to be understood. The law is actually quite good and fair. I'd have to write a treatise to answer the question as put.
M. Arthur Auslander
Auslander & Thomas-Intellectual Property Law Since 1909
The Intellectual Property Law Server
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