Legal Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
A Malaysian government official confirmed today that the comic Ultraman the Ultra Power was banned because it contains translated text that refers to one of the characters as “Allah,” the Arabic word for God, which could confuse young readers and offend Muslims.
“It’s stated that Ultraman King is Allah, so that is wrong for Muslims because Allah is not Ultraman King,” Hashimah Nik Jaafar, the Home Ministry’s secretary of Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division, told The Malay Mail. “It’s stated that Ultraman King is Allah, so that is wrong for Muslims because Allah is not Ultraman King. We have banned that because it can create confusion among children who read this caption. “They might think Ultraman King is Allah, which is wrong for Muslims because Allah is not to be visualized in any way.”
The offending sentence reportedly is, “He is considered, and respected as, ‘Allah’ or the Elder of all Ultra heroes.”
Malaysia’s Home Ministry has banned the release of Ultraman the Ultra Power, claiming the comic book contains elements detrimental to public order.
While it’s unclear what specific content in the Maylay edition alarmed the ministry, The Malay Mail reports the decision has been met with widespread mockery online. One government official even questioned the move, with Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeting, “What is wrong with UItraman?”
An unfired bullet discovered last year in the Clinton Township, Michigan, building that once housed Comics World will be tested to see whether it’s connected to the 1990 murder of co-owner Barbara George.
Her husband Michael George was twice tried and twice convicted — first in 2008 and then in 2011 — in the fatal shooting, which prosecutors claim he staged to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George, now 53, is serving life in prison without parole.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the bullet was found in February 2013 by an employee of the company that manages a building while he was cleaning the backroom where Barbara George was shot nearly 23 years earlier. It was turned over to township police, leading defense attorney Joseph Kosmala to file a motion in January for the bullet to be tested for ballistics, fingerprints and DNA (there was a filing delay because of a miscommunication between Kosmala and Michael George’s appellate attorney). Macomb County Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski granted that motion last week.
After being pursued in court over the past seven years by Stan Lee Media, Marvel and its corporate parent Disney have had enough: On Valentine’s Day, the companies asked a federal judge to put a stop to the failed dot-com’s dogged claims of ownership of Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men and other lucrative characters.
Filed Friday in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Hollywood, Esq., the motion to dismiss comes as part of what began in September as a seemingly straightforward copyright- and trademark-infringement lawsuit involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre.
However, as Disney states in its filing, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” with the surprising assertion in November from the theater that it had licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (it should be noted the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That conveniently opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to its co-founder and namesake, to sue Disney on Feb. 7, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, other characters co-created by Stan Lee.
Continuing its long, and so far wholly unsuccessful, fight for ownership of many of Marvel’s best-known characters, the tenacious Stan Lee Media has sued a Walt Disney Co. subsidiary, seeking to join a dispute about licensing Spider-Man for the stage.
In September, Disney Enterprises, Marvel and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre, saying it violated copyrights and trademarks by using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever (Disney and Mackintosh jointly hold the copyright to the Mary Poppins stage production). The theater responded in November with the surprising claim that Disney doesn’t own Spider-Man. Instead, the counterclaim stated, the character belongs to Stan Lee Media, which licensed the rights to the American Music Theatre.
Yesterday, we briefly reported on the case of Ecuadorian political cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who ran afoul of the government’s Superintendency of Information and Communication (SUPERCOM) over a cartoon critical of president Rafael Correa. The cartoon showed police hauling away items from the home of journalist Fernando Villavicencio following a raid, and the caption identified the confiscated material as denunciations of Correa’s corruption. SUPERCOM ordered the newspaper that carried the cartoon, El Universo, to pay a hefty fine (2% of their revenues from the past three months) and to print a “correction.”
What could possibly go wrong with that plan?
This time, Bonilla’s cartoon shows Villavicencio inviting authorities into his home, inviting them to take everything they want, and blaming them for being too courteous.
“Call your lawyer,” one of the policemen tells him in a frame, to which Villavicencio responds: “Don’t worry, I trust all of you.”
Clearly Bonilla is mocking the government sanction, although his editors probably aren’t laughing: The newspaper has paid the fine (which amounted to $93,000), although it is appealing.
SUPERCOM’s complaint against the cartoon is that it violates an Ecuadorian law that prohibits newspapers from taking an “institutional position” on an open legal case. Meanwhile, the head of SUPERCOM complained that Bonilla’s assertion that the confiscated materials were evidence of corruption was an opinion rather than fact, which suggests a lack of understanding of what editorial cartoons are. This raises the question of whether the government is treating cartoonists as journalists; given that the official accused Bonilla of a “deliberate act of disinformation,” it seems that they are.
Although an appeals court seems to have brought to an end the Joe Shuster estate’s bid to reclaim the artist’s stake in Superman, The Hollywood Reporter reminds us that the fight by Jerry Siegel’s heirs is far from over.
According to the website, attorney Marc Toberoff — he represents both families — is scheduled to file a brief next month on a pending appeal of a March 2013 ruling that affirmed the writer’s family relinquished any claims to the Man of Steel by accepting a 2001 offer from DC Comics that permits the publisher to retain all rights to Superman (as well as Superboy and The Spectre) in exchange for $3 million in cash and contingent compensation worth tens of millions.
Toberoff maintains the Siegels never accepted the DC offer (the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found otherwise), but even if there was a contract, then the publisher failed to perform. That explains the addition last year of the line “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family” to the credits of any DC title featuring Superman, a stipulation of the 2001 agreement.
However, Wright noted that breach-of-contract claims are a matter for state court, and don’t affect the enforceability of the 2001 agreement. So, a separate lawsuit remains an option for the Siegels, even if — or perhaps when — they exhaust their copyright case.
As The Hollywood Reporter points out, while the Siegel heirs still face “incredibly long odds,” their fight isn’t over yet.
In the latest — and, quite possibly, final — legal blow to the estate of Joe Shuster, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition for a rehearing of its November decision that effectively brought to an end what a three-judge panel described as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.”
Deadline reports that the one-page order closes the door to any more petitions for rehearing before the Ninth Circuit, leaving the Supreme Court as the only option left to attorney Marc Toberoff, who last year pledged, “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.”
After last week hiring a skywriter to pen an apology to Daniel Clowes, Shia LaBeouf appeared to bait the cartoonist Tuesday on Twitter with a photo of the “Storyboard for my next short ‘Daniel Boring,’” an obvious reference to both Clowes’ Eightball serial “David Boring” and the actor’s seemingly unending plagiarism controversy.
But while LaBeouf didn’t get a rise out of Clowes, he did receive a cease-and-desist letter from the cartoonist’s attorney — which the actor promptly posted on the social media platform.
After pointing out that the storyboard drawings are copied from “David Boring,” Clowes’ attorney Michael J. Kump notes that, “if the foregoing isn’t outrageous enough conduct by your client, Mr. LaBeouf in his tweet today plagiarized Mr. Clowes’ own description of ‘David Boring’” as “it’s like Fassbinder meets half-baked Nabokov on Gilligan’s Island.” (Also worth noting: The photos fanned out beneath the drawing are of actors Patton Oswalt and Seth Rogen, who recently mocked LaBeouf’s ongoing Twitter apologies.)
An online-privacy advocacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate MarvelKids.com and the Hello Kitty Carnival mobile app, which it insists fail to protect children’s personal information as required by federal law.
In twin complaints filed Wednesday, the Center for Digital Democracy claims neither Marvel nor Sanrio Digital “provides adequate notice or obtains verifiable parental consent prior to collecting, using, or disclosing personal information about its child users,” as mandated by the 14-year-old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaints are the first to be filed since the FTC implemented stricter rules in July.
Launched in January 2008, MarvelKids is a hub “designed to entertain and educate children” using the company’s kid-friendly comics, animated series and games. Visitors can watch episodes and clips from shows like Ultimate Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, read issues of titles like Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and assorted Power Pack team-ups, and play upward of 20 online games.
In a move that seems like it would come from an authoritarian regime, not a fully developed democracy, a Swiss court has forbidden the publication of a book of cartoons critical of Sepp Blatter, president of the international football (soccer) association FIFA — and it has threatened to fine the cartoonist, former football player Olé Andersen, up to 10,000 Swiss francs if it’s published anywhere in the world.
Within days of being sentenced to 34 months of home confinement on three counts of child molestation, DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer had already petitioned the court to allow him more freedom.
The 52-year-old Kramer avoided possible life imprisonment on Dec. 2 when he entered an Alford plea in Gwinnett County (Georgia) Superior Court — it’s effectively a guilty plea that allows the defendant to maintain his innocence — that brought to a close the 13-year-old case. As a condition of the agreement, Kramer was sentence to five years of house arrest for each count, to run concurrently. Because he was previously jailed in Connecticut and Georgia for 26 months, he was left with 34 months. He will be a registered sex offender for life, and must pay $100,000 restitution to each of the three victims.
Some criticized the deal, saying it was far too lenient. However, District Attorney Danny Porter said he was concerned forthe three victims, now adults who were prepared to testify, and with the taxpayers, who have had to foot the estimated $200,000 to $300,000 bill for Kramer’s 11-month stay in the Gwinnett County Jail.
Tokyo police have arrested a man they suspect sent more than 400 threatening letters to publishers, retailers, convention centers, convenience stores and other venues connected with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball.
The suspect, 36-year-old Hirofumi Watanabe, was arrested in Shibuya as he was allegedly mailing a batch of letters;. Police say he was spotted on security cameras near several locations connected to his threats; it was reported earlier that they may actually have questioned him on one occasion and then let him go. Watanabe is officially being charged with “obstruction of business,” and according to police, he admitted to the crime, saying, “I’m sorry. I’ve lost.”
JC McInwell translates a Japanese news report that indicates Watanabe didn’t know Fujimaki personally but was jealous of his success as a creator.
As expected, the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing of last month’s ruling that reaffirmed the artist’s estate can’t reclaim his copyright stake in the Man of Steel.
The Ninth Circuit upheld in a 2-1 opinion an October 2012 ruling by a lower court that the Shuster family relinquished all claims to the character in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright had found the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
But in a petition filed Tuesday, and first reported by Deadline, attorney Marc Toberoff insists the Nov. 21 opinion warrants a rehearing by either the three-judge panel or the Ninth Circuit’s full bench “because it contravenes Congress’ clear objectives, and this Court’s carefully-circumscribed decisions.”
A French judge on Tuesday dismissed a claim by the daughter of Asterix artist Albert Uderzo that her father is mentally frail, which has permitted others to exploit his beloved creation.
According to France24, the judge found the 86-year-old Uderzo is “lucid” and “has the full capacity to make decisions.” The lawyer for daughter Sylvie Uderzo said she intends to file an immediate appeal.
The dispute dates back to at least 2007, when Sylvie and her husband Bernard de Choizy were dismissed from their senior positions at Les Éditions Albert René, the publishing company Albert founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye two years later, Uderzo criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death.