There’s a nip in the air, the leaves are starting to change, and people are riding the subway in Flash costumes, this can only mean one thing: New York Comic Con time.iNo Stan Lee this year so will be the most famous Lee at NYCC, so if you want an autograph I will be downstairs.
It also means that it is time to recycle this article yet again. Every year I go to NYCC, I see the same violations over and over again. So, of course, I have come to rain on everyone’s Comic Con parade and point out some things that I see wrong at the Con. If you are heading to Comic Con or you are a writer, designer or artist, here are some quick tips on things that violate other’s intellectual property (“IP”) rights and can get you sued.
1. Watch out for Counterfeits
Year after year at Comic Con, I see a lot of shady looking t-shirts for sale that don’t look quite right. If you replicate someone else’s copyrights or trademarks they are illegal to sell. The items are typically called knock-offs or counterfeits. Trademarks and copyrights can only be reproduced on clothes with a license from the IP owner.
2. Artists Alley is Copyright and Trademark Infringement Central
A walk down Artist Alley reveals many artists selling reproductions of comic book heroes and villains that they created themselves. If an artist doesn’t have permission, they cannot reproduce copyrights and trademarks. So when you ask an artist to sketch up Spider-Man, and that artist doesn’t have permission, it is copyright and trademark infringement. No arguments, it is. Whether Marvel or any studio would actually look to shutdown these artists is another thing. These artists help promote the brand and it wouldn’t look good going after the “little guys.”
3. Cosplay Copyright Chaos?
Most companies will not sue someone if you make your own costume but it technically is copyright and/or trademark infringement. Feel free to make your own costume and cosplay away, the harm is very little that you will get in trouble. However, if you try to mass produce costumes it might get you sued; it has happened to many companies when they failed to get permission from the IP owner.
4. Fan Fiction is Copyright Infringement
We all have characters that we love but it is technically copyright infringement if you take someone else’s characters, settings and plots and create your own story. It likely will not get you in trouble if you do not sell your work to the masses, but it is copyright infringement. For instance, you can’t use the characters and likeness from the “Star Trek” universe and create your own story and comic books.
5. Keep the Weapons at Home
NYCC has banned bringing in weapons of any kind but you can buy some while you are there, of course. True story, an overambitious little cosplayer was reenacting some fierce battle when he quickly turned around, swung and nailed me in the leg with his bamboo sword. It hurt like heck and it will get someone sued the next time it happens.
If you are heading to NYCC, come say hi and laugh at my Wonder Woman costume. Updates on Twitter @GeekAttorney.