In the Tintin font thread
, Admin posted the following:Moulinsart own the Tintin font; according to their Rules Concerning the Use of the Work of Hergé on the Internet (aka the Charter), the font is protected by copyright:
A. The Work and the rights of Hergé and his legal successors
1. Moulinsart S.A. (162 avenue Louise, 1050 Brussels, Belgium) is the exclusive worldwide owner of all exploitation rights related to the work of Hergé, particularly but not limited to The Adventures of Tintin. Copyright protects not only the comic albums and the drawings (cases, strips, plates, extra-textual drawings, covers), script (scenario), texts, dialogues and gags, but also the settings, the characters and their particularities, the names, titles and imaginary places, onomatopoeia, fonts and other elements of the work of Hergé.
There are some very interesting claims in that text! I am not a lawyer, but have worked for a long time in publishing and publishing-related companies, so have at least some knowledge of the subject of copyright, and I think that there is some stretching of the protection they would actually get in terms of their rights.
There is no doubt that there is total and complete justification for stating their right to exploit the works of Hergé (that is their license from the Fondation, after all), and to state claim over the artwork, images and liknesses etc. he created.
However, copyright does not cover the *idea* of a creator - this is why two film studios can bring out two movies about asteroids crashing into the earth without either of them being able to say, “But that's *my* idea!”, or how another makes a movie in which the son of the lion king fights his uncle to get the crown back, when a Japanese studio already made a cartoon on the same theme (actually Disney get it done to them in turn - look at the cheap knock-off videos in Woolworth's which appear to tell the story of the Jungle Book, the Hunchback or whatever, as soon as the Disney pic is in the cinema).
So when they say that they have copyright in the gags, I’d say “Wellllllll, prove it!!” I honestly can't see how they can. Largely the gags are pratt-falls, other physical comedy bits and the joke of having a deaf old man misunderstand things - all of these are old, old gags, which to be frank, Hergé often appears to have borrowed from silent movies - for example there are scenes of Chaplin on roller-skates decades before Hergé made use of the idea, and Harold Lloyd comes to mind for Tintin scaling the outside of the sky-scraper in Tintin in America
(I'd ask Tybaltstone, who seems to have far more expertise in matters of the Chaplin era than I, if he can make any proper correlation between movie sources and the albums).
Legend has it that at RKO Studios, Howard Hughes was notorious for firing off cease and desist notices to anyone who he felt was trespassing on things that were his, even when they weren’t or he shouldn’t have. Some wag managed to goad him into sending another studio a telegram to say that, as his previous Western had contained some line like, “Head 'em off at the pass!”, they couldn't use it; they then launched a sequence of replies saying that they had had the line “Hands up!” in a picture, so Hughes couldn’t use it...!
Warner Bros. tried to stop the Marx Brothers using “Casablanca”, in the title of A Night in Casablanca
, because they tried to say they had copyright in it; Groucho responded that it would be unlikely that anyone would mistake Harpo for Ingrid Bergman, and that they had been using “Brothers” for longer than Warners had, so who was copying whom?
Perhaps the most blatant steal of a gag is the Indiana Jones shooting the swordsman in Raiders
; this was in actual fact a Tommy Cooper gag, remembered by Peter Diamond, the fight arranger, and not (as legend would have it) either thought up by Harrison Ford or just done on the spur of the moment.
Mr. Diamond appeared in a sketch in around 1960 as a top French duellist, opposite Cooper as a shambling no-hoper in a sword fight. Diamond was immaculate in fencing whites, Cooper wore cricket pads, a dirty pull-over and carried a tennis racquet; Diamond did a series of complex warm moves with his sword, really swashing his buckle and looking every bit as though he’d trounce Cooper in the fight - then Cooper pulled out a gun and shot him.
Gags aren’t copyright…