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Comics A.M. | Witnesses testify in ZombieWalk crash hearing

ZombieWalk: San Diego 2014

ZombieWalk: San Diego 2014

Legal | Witnesses testified Wednesday in a preliminary hearing that driver Matthew Pocci honked his horn and drove through the crowd of spectators last year during the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, despite attempts by spectators stop him. Pocci, who is deaf, has been charged with felony reckless driving causing serious injury. But Pocci’s fiancee, April Armstrong, said the crowd had mostly passed when he started the car, and that the people surrounding them were frightening: “People then started laughing at us. People were getting close to us. I started to freak out. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was looking back at my son, he was scared. I told Matt, ‘please let’s go.'” Armstrong also testified, however, she had told a neighbor she felt she couldn’t tell the true story because of her relationship with Pocci. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Disney and Marvel settle Spider-Man dispute with theater

marvel superheroes

Disney and Marvel have reached a settlement with a Pennsylvania theater in a copyright- and trademark-infringement case that unexpectedly turned into another front in their legal battle with Stan Lee Media.

Law360 reports American Music Theatre has agreed to stop using Spider-Man and other Disney properties without permission, bringing to an end a September 2013 lawsuit over the musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever. If the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based theater violates the permanent injunction and consent order filed Thursday, it must pay $25,000 in actual or liquidated damages per work, plus attorneys’ fees.

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Artists sue Marvel, Disney over ‘Iron Man’ armor design

iron man-radixArtists Ben Lai and Ray Lai have sued Marvel and Disney, claiming the Iron Man films ripped off the body-armor designs from their comic Radix.

The two brothers, who own Horizon Comics Productions, first rang this bell in April 2013, issuing a press release to announce a cease-and-desist letter just ahead of the premiere of Iron Man 3. However, as THR, Esq., first reported, on Thursday they finally filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court against Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, The Walt Disney Co. and a string of other defendants.

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Brewery to redesign beer label over ‘Powers’ art similarities

Comparison courtesy of Myron Campbell

Comparison courtesy of Myron Campbell

A Canadian brewery is headed back to the drawing board after learning a label for its new line of comics-inspired beers looks a lot like one of Michael Avon Oeming’s drawings from Powers.

The Surrey Now reports Central City Brewers in Surrey, British Columbia, will stop all shipments of Detective Saison — the first in a series of beers intended to tell a larger story — while the logo is redesigned. “I can tell you that we’re in a very awkward situation right now,” company executive Tim Barnes told the newspaper, while not commenting directly on the similarities.

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Stan Lee Media asks high court to revive suit against Stan Lee

stan-lee

After losing one lawsuit after another in its eight-year battle for many of Marvel’s most famous characters, Stan Lee Media is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court for a reversal of fortune.

In a filing made public Friday, and first reported by Law360, the failed dot-com asked the justices to revive its lawsuit against co-founder and namesake Stan Lee, arguing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals erred in its October dismissal.

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Comics A.M. | 40 arrested in Japanese crackdown on illegal uploads

The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises

Legal | In their largest raid ever, police departments across Japan arrested 40 people between Feb. 17 and Feb. 19 on suspicion of copyright infringement for illegally sharing anime, manga, music and live-action film and television dramas online. The suspects, all men ranging in age from 21 to 65, are accused of uploading such materials as Detective Conan, XXX Holic, The Wind Rises and the Mobile Suit Gundam UC soundtrack. In Japan, such unauthorized uploads are criminal acts punishable by up to 10 years in jail or fines of about $84,000. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian police seize copies of Zunar’s new book

Zunar

Zunar

Censorship | Police confiscated 200 copies of Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, which lampoons the prime minister’s wife, as they were being transported to a book launch party on Saturday. Zunar, who was charged last week with sedition and held for three days because of a comment he made on Twitter, said every time he’s arrested, police raid his printer. Nonetheless, he encouraged the attendees at the launch party to order his books online, and said that ultimately, attempts to suppress him will backfire on the Malaysian government. [The Malaysian Insider]

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Diplo sort-of apologizes for swiping GIF, ‘trollish tendencies’

diplo

After responding first with vulgarity and flippancy to criticism that he used an artist’s GIF without permission or credit, Grammy-winning producer Diplo has changed his tune, even if he can’t quite muster a full-throated apology.

“Sorry if I hurt your feelings, or trivialize your art,” he wrote in a message to illustrator Rebecca Mock, before effectively blaming everyone else for Wednesday’s social media firestorm that led Defamer to run the headline “Diplo Is a Dick.” Which really, at this point, is pretty difficult to dispute.

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Producer swipes art, responds with vulgar tweets when called out

mock tweet

Grammy-winning producer Diplo on Wednesday teased the new Jack U collaboration with Missy Elliot with an Instagram video, which should’ve been a harmless bit of self-promotion. Instead, it led to a flurry of mocking and misogynistic tweets aimed at Rebecca Mock and others after the illustrator pointed out the DJ had used one of her GIFs without permission or credit.

Diplo, whom In the Mix once ironically dubbed the “King of Twitter,” added Mock’s credit to the Instagram post, only to trumpet his action with this vulgar exchange:

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Forget digital piracy, someone’s bootlegging classic comics

comicexample6

Before trade paperbacks and digital comics, if you wanted to read a classic comic, you — and your wallet — were hard-pressed to find a solution unless the issue was reprinted. But even now, with a large percentage of Golden and Silver age comics available digitally or in collected editions, some fans still want to be able to hold a copy in their hands.

Someone has come up with a way for collectors to do just that, without paying the high prices often asked for the original. However, the approach doesn’t appear to be legal.

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Stan Lee Media loses yet another bid for Marvel characters

marvel superheroes

Placing what very well could be the final lump of coal in Stan Lee Media’s stocking, another federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the failed dot-com can’t claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by its namesake.

As ROBOT 6 readers are well aware, the litigious shareholders of Stan Lee Media have long insisted that between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Stan Lee’s $1 million-a-year lifetime contract, and November 1998, when he entered into a new agreement, the legendary writer signed over to Stan Lee Entertainment (later Stan Lee Media) his likeness and the rights to all of the characters he co-created.

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Comics A.M. | Charges filed against ‘Hi Score Girl’ creator, others

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Legal | The saga of Hi Score Girl continues this week, with the Osaka Prefectural Police charging creator Rensuke Oshihiri and 15 employees of publisher Square Enix with copyright infringement. Game publisher SNK Playmore originally filed criminal charges against Square Enix over the summer, claiming that Hi Score Girl, a comedy about gamers, used its characters without permission. Square Enix has recalled the published volumes of the series and halted serialization in its Monthly Big Gangan magazine. [Anime News Network]

Passings | Political cartoonist and collector Art Wood, a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, died Nov. 4 at age 87. He donated more than 40,000 pieces of original cartoon art to the Library of Congress for its bicentennial, and the library published a book, Cartoon America, based on the collection. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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It’s official: Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain

watson and holmes4The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to consider a case brought by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, which means the bulk of the Sherlock Holmes stories and characters have officially entered the public domain.

The author’s estate petitioned the high court in September, seeking to overturn a Seventh Circuit finding that 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain.

Doyle’s heirs had long insisted that publishers, television networks and film studios pay a licensing fee to use the characters and story elements. Many, including Warner Bros. and CBS, complied, but Sherlock Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 while assembling In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. When the Doyle estate sent a letter to the publisher threatening to block sales of the book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers, Klinger sued.

In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

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Stan Lee Media can’t assert Spider-Man ownership in Disney suit

Stan Lee Media

Stan Lee Media

Still reeling from its loss Wednesday in the Ninth Circuit, Stan Lee Media today suffered another defeat in Pennsylvania, where a federal judge ruled the failed dot-com can’t insert itself into Disney’s dispute with a theater company by asserting ownership of Spider-Man.

As you may recall, Disney in September 2013 sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre, claiming its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever used unlicensed elements Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King. However, as Disney’s attorneys later noted, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” when the theater announced it had retroactively licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media.

That conveniently opened the door for the company to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, an issue Stan Lee Media argued had never been directly addressed by any court. It was certainly a creative maneuver using one of the few potential paths left to pursue its fight with Marvel and Disney (a clearly annoyed judge had warned in September 2013 that any attempt to amend its previous lawsuit against the House of Mouse would be “futile”).

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Marvel titles now include Jack Kirby creator credit

kirby-marvelEagle-eyed readers may have noticed a new entry to the credits pages of several Marvel comics released this week: a line acknowledging the contribution of Jack Kirby.

All-New X-Men #33, Fantastic Four #12, Inhuman #7 and Wolverine and the X-Men #11 include the phrase “Created By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby,” while Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 states, “Captain America Created By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.” The credits pages can be found below.

Added with no fanfare, the credits follow a settlement agreement announced last month, ending the five-year-old fight between Marvel and Kirby’s children over the copyrights to 45 characters created or co-created by their father — among them, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Neither side has commented publicly on their agreement beyond the joint statement, issued even as the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether it would consider an appeal by the Kirby heirs: “Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”

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