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MarvelKids, Hello Kitty app violate children’s privacy law, group claims

marvelkidsAn 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.

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Swiss court bans cartoon book about FIFA head — worldwide

Cartoonist Olé Andersen's take on the controversy involving his own book

Cartoonist Olé Andersen’s take on the controversy involving his own book

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.

Kickstarter, anyone?

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Ed Kramer seeks to ease terms of house arrest

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

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.

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Suspect arrested in ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threats

Hirofumi Watanabe

Hirofumi Watanabe

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.

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Shuster heirs seek a rehearing of Superman copyright appeal

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

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.”

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Albert Uderzo’s daughter loses round in ‘Asterix’ family feud

Asterix

Asterix

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.

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Stan Lee Media takes another stab at Marvel character rights

Spider-manSay what you will about the shareholders of Stan Lee Media, but despite suffering one loss after another in their decade-long battle for the rights to Marvel’s best-known characters, they’re still unwilling to concede defeat.

In papers filed Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, and first reported by Deadline, the failed dot-com now seeks a declaratory judgment that it, and not Disney or Marvel, owns Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Thor and other superheroes.

The move, which comes just three months after an annoyed federal judge dismissed their multibillion-dollar claim against Disney, springs from a lawsuit filed in September by the media giant against the American Music Theatre, which is accused of using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a stage revue without permission. In a surprise twist, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based theater responded last month that it has a license to use Spider-Man and numerous other Marvel heroes — through an exclusive agreement with Stan Lee Media. Somewhat conveniently, American Music Theatre filed a third-party counterclaim against Stan Lee Media, opening the door for Tuesday’s filing.

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Despite guilty plea, Ed Kramer maintains his innocence

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Jail booking photo)

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Jail booking photo)

Although Ed Kramer pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of child molestation, the DragonCon co-founder insists he’s innocent of the charges that date back more than 13 years.

“He maintains his innocence on all charges,” hit attorney McNeill Stokes told reporters at the Gwinnett County (Georgia) Courthouse. District Attorney Danny Porter countered that the result remains the same: “If it made him feel better not to have to say ‘I did it,’ then what difference does that make in the end?”

Kramer, who was accused of molesting three teenage boys, entered an Alford plea, in which the defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there’s sufficient evidence that a judge or jury would likely find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The 52-year-old Kramer entered pleas on three of the six counts in the original indictment, one for each of the victims; the state agreed not to pursue the other charges.

Under the agreement, Kramer was sentenced 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’s left with 34 months. He also must pay $100,000 restitution to each of the victims. He will be a registered sex offender for life, and barred from interacting with anyone under the age of 16 — which includes involvement in any occupation that could put him in contact with minors. Kramer was previously involved in photography, videography and filmmaking, all of which are now off-limits to him.

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DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer pleads guilty

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer pleaded guilty this morning to child-molestation charges even as his long-delayed trial was set to get under way in Lawrenceville, Georgia. However, he won’t spend any additional time in jail.

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the 50-year-old Kramer entered guilty pleas three of the six counts in the original indictment, one for each of the teenage boys; the state agreed not to pursue the other charges. Under the agreement, the district attorney recommended a 20-year sentence, with Kramer serving five years on each count, to run concurrently. Because Kramer was previously jailed in Connecticut and Georgia for 26 months, he’s left with 34 months — which will be served under house arrest.

That sentence, as the newspaper notes, is likely because of the myriad health problems Kramer claims to suffer. He also was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to each of the three victims by July 2014, and is prohibited from interacting with anyone under the age of 16.

If convicted, he had faced 25-year mandatory minimum sentences on each of the charges, with two aggravated counts potentially carrying life sentences.

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DragonCon officially cuts ties with Ed Kramer ahead of trial

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

Ed Kramer (Gwinnett County Superior Court)

Just ahead of Ed Kramer’s trial on 13-year-old child-molestation charges, DragonCon has announced a settlement that officially severs all ties with its litigious co-founder.

The board of the popular Atlanta sci-fi/fantasy convention revealed in July, amid a boycott effort, that it had offered to buy out Kramer’s shares in a mergerhis attorney called it a “discriminatory squeeze-out” — in which a new company called Dragon Con Inc. absorbed the old DragonCon/Ace Inc. Kramer initially rejected the offer, which led the board to sue him in August; DragonCon spokesman Greg Euston told Atlanta magazine the out-of-court settlement calls for Kramer to be paid a “small amount over” what the company had offered.

Kramer, who helped found DragonCon a quarter-century ago, hasn’t been directly associated with the event since his arrest in August 2000 on charges of sexually abusing two teenage boys (a third later stepped forward). However, he continued to receive annual dividends from DragonCon — $154,000 for 2011 alone — after attempts to buy out Kramer’s stake in the for-profit corporation proved unsuccessful. He filed two lawsuits against co-founder Pat Henry and DragonCon/ACE, and rebuffed three previous offers to buy out his shares for $500,000, in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

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DC wins ‘final’ appeal in long battle over Superman rights

Action Comics #1Although the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had vowed they were “prepared to go the distance” in their legal battle with DC Comics, they appear to have reached the end of the road. Of course, that’s been said a few times before.

As Deadline reports, in a 2-1 vote the Ninth Circuit on Thursday tied up the loose ends in what it describes as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself,” reaffirming an October 2012 ruling that the Shuster estate is prevented from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the character by a 20-year-old agreement with DC.

“We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision,” DC’s parent company Warner Bros. said in a statement.

That lower-court decision, which was appealed in May, dealt with a 1992 deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to Superman 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. In October, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.

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Batman bin Suparman learns the hard way that crime doesn’t pay

batman bin suparmanBatman bin Suparman, a Singapore man who became an Internet sensation in 2008 for, well, being named Batman bin Suparman, has — against all odds — turned to a life of crime.

The National reports the 23-year-old Suparman was arrested in August after he was caught on security video sneaking into a store on two separate nights, stealing a total of $500. He ultimately admitted to those crimes and eight other charges, including stealing his brother’s ATM card and making withdrawals of $650, and using heroin.

Prosecutors moved to trial on just three charges, and on Monday Suparman was sentenced to 33 months in jail. According to Channel NewsAsia, it could’ve been a lot worse: Housebreaking charges alone could’ve earned him between two and 14 years.

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Malaysian cartoonist Zunar speaks out

komik_cartoon_o_phobia_zunarThe Malaysian cartoonist Zunar describes his government’s attempts to silence him, and proclaims his determination not to be silenced, in a column on the news site Malaysiakini. Last week, a court dismissed his appeal of his 2010 arrest, although he was never formally charged, and another court ruled that the government had to return the books confiscated from him. Zunar says he has another appeal before the court and doesn’t expect to prevail in that one either.

The trouble started in 2009 with the publication of his comic Gedung Kartun (Cartoon-o-Phobia). Before it could be distributed, government officials raided his office and confiscated 400 copies of the book; the next day they raided his printer and warned them not to print any more of Zunar’s books, threatening to revoke their printing license.

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Theater claims it licensed Spider-Man from Stan Lee Media

Disney and MarvelNo matter how hard they try, Disney and Marvel can’t seem to shake the specter of Stan Lee Media: Just two months after a federal judge dismissed a multibillion lawsuit against Disney for ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee, the failed dot-com has emerged in another, seemingly unrelated dispute.

In September, Disney, Marvel and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-bases 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).

On Monday the theater responded with an eye-opening claim of its own: that Disney doesn’t own Spider-Man. Instead, the counterclaim states, the character belongs to Stan Lee Media, which licensed the rights to the American Music Theatre.

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Ohio state worker downloaded thousands of comics, movies with government computers

From the inspector general's report

From the inspector general’s report

An employee of the Ohio Department of Health has reportedly confessed to illegally downloading, television series and more than 30,000 comic books from torrent sites to state computers.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Edward Jones Jr., who has worked in information technology for the agency since 1992, admitted to the activity during an investigation by the inspector general’s office initiated last year after an allegation by media giant Viacom that copyrighted material had been downloaded using a state IP address.

According to the inspector general’s report, Jones initially suggested that Viacom might have simply detected him downloading “suspicious programs” or viruses to an unauthorized third computer for analysis as part of his job. Shortly after that first interview, in April 2012, Jones reportedly attempted to delete more than 5,000 files from the computer and an external hard drive; investigators were later able to recover those video and comic book files. They also determined that Jones was a member of several torrenting websites, where he both downloaded and uploading files.

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