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Advice Wanted: I have drawn two Tintin covers...

meshcarver
Member
#1 · Posted: 2 Jan 2015 19:04 · Edited by: Moderator
Hello everyone,
I recently spent a fair bit of time creating two Tintin book covers, and done the "crossover" thing by putting Tintin in alternative settings.
One is set in a zombie themed computer game, the other in an eerie similar game genre.
There is no violence shown or pornographic references- I have tried to retain the Tintin innocence so prevalent in all of his appearances. :)
Now, I would really like to post them on my personal blog, and/or tweet them for anyone who is interested to see, but after a bit of searching, I have slowly discovered that the authorities that be do not take kindly to people creating Tintin fan art, is that correct?
I am confused here, as there are literally hundreds of "Tintin" mock/parody covers out there to be found easily..?
I have no intention whatsoever of making any money off these- they were done solely for pleasure and an exercise in trying to reproduce a style as accurately as I could.
Any advice or pointers in this regard would be greatly appreciated concerning this - I don't want to fall foul of the powers that be, but at the same time would like to show these images if possible.
I mean, if I linked that they are both inspired by Tintin and link in the relevant copyright info would that be fine?

Again, thanks for any help chaps,

Marc
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 13:12
This issue has been gone over many times in the past, and from the tone of your post I think you are already aware of what the bottom line is... I should add that we are not in a position to give legal advice: you are on your own out there whatever you decide to do, and should take counsel from a professional if you are worried, ideally with experience in copyright law.

Put succinctly: to publish (which includes posting on a blog) any material which is controlled by copyright, you need the permission of the copyright holder.

It is not dependent on whether you do this for free or make a profit from it, the issue is, "Do you have the agreement of the copyright holder?"

It is not changed by adding disclaimers or "get out" clauses (e.g. "I do not wish to infringe on a copyright, and will take the image down if asked to do so by the copyright holder"), as your intention isn't the point, and you have still infringed the copyright.

You ask if adding links about inspiration and copyright to your images would help. The question really answers itself - if you haven't been granted the right, then no. You are in fact merely emphasizing the point that you know that copyright exists, but haven't taken steps to obtain it, or know that it wouldn't be granted.

There is a concept of "fair usage" in copyright matters, such as the use of small extracts in a book-review to illustrate a point, or to give a flavour of a work. However it is not (as far as I know) actually written in law, and is subject to context and interpretation on a case-by-case basis - so it isn't a question of the number of words or the number of images used, but how they were used in a specific instance). Producing your own Tintin images would be unlikely to fall into this category.

There are exceptions made in law for parody and satirical use of copyright material; however, that would also be looked at in a case-by-case manner, and subject to scrutiny if brought to law. Just posting a picture and saying, "I am being satirical", isn't an automatic excuse for a breach of copyright.

Some authors/ writers/ copyright holders have expressed a position that they don't mind fan-art; that isn't them disregarding copyright, or taking a stance contrary to authors/ writers/ copyright holders who do, so much as it is them granting limited rights to those who wish to use them.

Although much is made of the fact that Moulinsart do limit usage, and don't grant copyright use to those who wish to create new images, they really are not alone in this, do not behave significantly differently to others in these matters, and are within their rights to do so.

The fact that there are other unauthorized images out there is also irrelevant: just because there are thousands if not millions of stolen cars out there, would that encourage you to steal and drive a car? Should your moral compass be guided by the wrong doings of others?

If you want to display your ability, facility and originality in art, why not do what Hergé did - and draw your own characters and comics?
meshcarver
Member
#3 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 14:00 · Edited by: Moderator
Errr, so that's a "No" then..?

Thanks for taking the time to explain, it's appreciated. However, I have many examples of other characters/comics etc I've drawn in the past so that's that base covered.

My reason for choosing to draw Tintin was because well, it's Tintin and his character suits being displaced into other scenarios and situations extremely well- I'd say more so than say Batman or Dredd.
Also, it's a unique and clean art style that is a pleasure and challenge to try to reproduce.

It's a shame either way, and I really don't think the comparison of stealing a car is in order.
A drawing can't run over a large group of pedestrians for example - it seems to lend too much drama to the issue.
Anyway, thanks again for taking the time out to reply Jock. :)
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 14:36 · Edited by: jock123
meshcarver:
Errr, so that's a "No" then..?

Again, I think you already know the answer... What I can't do is offer you the loophole you seem to want to find.

meshcarver:
I have many examples of other characters/comics etc I've drawn in the past so that's that base covered.

I'm not sure which base it is that you have covered there: if they are other people's then there are the same considerations to be made; if they are your own creations, then well and good (and I look forward to hearing how you deal with copyright infringement when your career takes off...! :-))

meshcarver:
his character suits being displaced into other scenarios and situations extremely well - I'd say more so than say Batman or Dredd.

There's obviously an entirely subjective element there: both Batman and Dredd have a long history within their own continuities of being interpolated into multiple genres and scenarios - the former in everything from sci-fi comedy magic with Bat-Mite, to Gothic vampire romance in the work of Neal Adams, to appearing in unrelated franchises against Alien Xenomorphs and Predator hunter-aliens, to self-parody in Batman: The Brave and the Bold on TV; likewise Dredd has been used in drama, melodrama, comedy, self-parody, and as both a satire of, and (apparently now more than ever), an advocate of, straight violence and mayhem in the media. I think that Hergé's world view was far more stable and less flexible (and it's a world encompassing both science and magic!) than either of these characters!

meshcarver:
I really don't think the comparison of stealing a car is in order.
A drawing can't run over a large group of pedestrians for example

No, but I think you are taking it to extremes, not me - most stolen cars don't kill people either, but it's the initial act of theft that is being alluded to. I could have said "apple" or "Castafiore emerald"...
You also have to remember that he fact that you haven't mown down a row of pedestrians won't be taken into consideration by the judge when you are caught in a stolen car... ;-)

meshcarver:
thanks again for taking the time out to reply Jock. :)

No problem!
meshcarver
Member
#5 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 15:05 · Edited by: Moderator
Combining two posts...

Jock, as a suggestion, how much/what exactly would I have to change before copyright doesn't become an issue?

For example, if I hid half of his face, or changed the colour of Snowy?
If the cover name was renamed to Rintin or something utterly different, could that solve this issue do you know?

Thanks again for replying..!

It's a very strange one this, the act of being so inspired by a comic to create another entirely different image of it isn't taking anything physical away from the owner - I just can't see it being comparable to taking someones car away from them?

In this case, the owner still has all his Tintins, whereas the car owner is utterly without his car?

If anything, there ends up being more Tintins in the world..!

Yes, it's all meaningless in the end, but it rubs up the wrong side to compare this to stealing - it'd be just as easy to look at it as adding to the sum total too surely..?!

Anyway, you seem really keen to offer in depth replies and explanations which is great Jock, sincerely.
If you could address my other post here about possibly changing the designs etc. enough to not infringe then that'd be both helpful and fascinating to read.
I understand if not, no problem.
jock123
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 15:50 · Edited by: jock123
jock123:
how much/what exactly would I have to change before copyright doesn't become an issue?

As much as it would take for you to think, "Ah I have created something totally original here!"...?

Really, this is just looking for the loophole again: if you make the characters, settings and what-have you easily identifiable as something else, you will always be open to possible action by the other property's rights holder, and with all the risks that that entails (a court may find in the matter for either side, but why risk it?). Just changing things a little to try and get round the problem isn't really going to do it, and certainly isn't the protection that doing your own original thing from the ground up would be.

meshcarver:
to create another entirely different image of it isn't taking anything physical away from the owner

Well it takes away their control, which is very important, and a violation of their rights. Just because the thing taken isn't tangible doesn't make it valueless, or unimportant.

It could be argued that it is more important in some respects: you lose a car, you can get another one. Someone does something with your idea without permission, and nothing can return it to you intact, or take away the existence of what someone else has done.

As an example, say you appropriate the likeness of my hugely popular (yet entirely hypothetical) Cushion-cover Guy, the crime-fighting nemesis of Sofa City; you do this as an hommage, with the purest of motives, but it looks like my work. In doing this, you draw him battling Lamp Lad, a character I didn't create.
What you don't know is that I am at work on my magnum opus, C-C G vs The Deadly Lamp-Shade...
What am I to do? If I bring out my book, it will look like I am copying you... You have effectively damaged my ability as artist and creator to do things the way that I want, without recourse to a re-set switch to return things to the way they were.
No matter what I do to explain, someone somewhere will say I stole from you, or that my ideas weren't original, or will believe that I wouldn't have come up with Deadly Lamp-Shade if it hadn't been for you; an intangible crime then leads to other problems, with my loss of reputation, sales, creative freedom, and what not. The genii doesn't go back into the bottle...
meshcarver
Member
#7 · Posted: 3 Jan 2015 16:03 · Edited by: Moderator
Of course I don't want to purposefully infringe, why would I?
But I spent a long time drawing these before I discovered that Tintin is so stringently protected...

Sorry, just saw that you answered, thanks anyway.
Looks like it'll have to stay on my PC, away from the world...
Pretty sad really.

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