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   Author  Topic: Cartoons are limited  (Read 920 times)
Gilbert Lay
Cartoons are limited
« on: Oct 16th, 2006, 10:36am »
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I Make hand carved candles in a small flea market. I have been doing so for approximately 5 years. I learned to make these candles from Tom Campo. He has been making the same candles approximately 12 years. Mr. Campo had a candle shop in downtown Disney approximately 12 years ago. He had the shop there for almost 3 years. He was putting Disney toys on the candles there for three years and Disney never once complained to him. Disney took in shop when his lease expired for their expansion projects. Mr. Campo set up his business in various shops and flea markets around Disney, and continued to put Disney toys on them. Disney sent a letter to stop about 10 years ago, but Tom ignored it. Disney never again contacted him until approximately 2 years ago, the same time they contacted me.  
Disney was either obviously not very interested in protecting their copyrights in an area near to their Disney World Parks, or the new attorney they have hired (Michael Holihan) is overzealous in trying to so results to his client. It is my understanding(unsubstantiated) that Mr. Holihan is employing Bounty Hunters to seek out and destroy copyright infringers.  
Since I am so poor that I canít afford an attorney, I am acting pro Se for my defense. However several other candle carves did consult attorneys and were told not to try and fight the complaint unless they want to spend lots of money. Itís almost like extortion to have to put your whole sum of money( and again I am so poor that I near chapter 7 bankruptcy) up to fight for what you think is right.  
While preparing my defense I stumbled upon the subject of copyright vs 1st amendment rights. I appears to me that cartoon characters were not given any special cataegory by the Founding Fathers, or any of the following amendments and court rulings. I think this is wrong because the creation of cartoon animal and human characters is limited to a very small number of possibilities, compared to some other types of art. It would be impossible to draw one million cartoon pictures of a man that was at least 20% different from each other, and retain the shape of a man. Sure you can decorate the cartoon man with millions of different types and colors of attire, but the identifiable shape of a man is extremely limited.  
Creation of cartoon art is so common that children as young as 3 years old can create this type of art. Cartoon art is rapidly becoming the reality of the evolution of Scenes a Fairie. With over 6 billion people world wide, many with the tools to create this simplistic type of art, and the ability to mass produce it we are creating a new concept and definition of the Scenes a Fairie.  
All I know is that I make nice hand carved candles. For years I have bought the toys from Disney and put them on the candles. People love the candle and toys. They canít buy them from Disney because Disney makes so much money they donít want to get involved with something with a low profit margin. My kind of personalized art deserves a place in a world where corporation control dictates what people can and canít enjoy. I donít harm Disneyís profits with my small flea market business.  
The Courts have the ability to expand the doctrine of fair use. Because cartoon art is the most common type of art, and it is limited(there isnít an infinite number of animal and human shapes) then the fair use must be expanded to protect our 1st amendment right of freedom of speech. The Court has an obligation to preserve a balance between copyright protection and fair use. Iím not asking the Court to stop protecting serious inventions in the field of science, instead we are talking about frivolous, simple cartoon art.  
The number of copyright infringement complaints has increased at an alarming rate. To better protect the legitimate inventions the Court must expand the fair use doctrine and protect the court from the reality of millions of infringement complaints.  
I have a sign over the top of my candle business that explains to the public that the candles with toys are not licensed products. I put that sign up so that people will know that my product is not something created by Disney.  
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Re: Cartoons are limited
« Reply #1 on: Oct 16th, 2006, 10:43am »
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I don't think fair use is a useful defense here, however you may have a viable exhaustion of rights defense to both copyright and trademark infringement.
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Posts: 2251
Re: Cartoons are limited
« Reply #2 on: Oct 16th, 2006, 12:33pm »
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It's not clear to me what it is your doing.  If you're buying properly licensed "Disney" toys and then reselling them with candles, I think you're likely in the clear.
As for the fringes of your "argument", i.e., the parts addressing "how many ways are there to draw a cartoon mouse?" (to summarize), the answer is, "lots".  The law correctly recognizes that.  For that matter, so do you, I bet.  Do you recognize Mickey Mouse when you see him?  Do you confuse Bugs Bunny with other rabbits?  
- Jeff
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Intellectual Property and Technology Law
Brooklyn, USA
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