Friday, May 2, 2014

Hanna Barbera TV Supeheroes

In a recent post about the Nedor line of comics, Public Domain Comics scholar Cash Gorman tipped me off to the concept of Orphaned Works. From what I can gather, Orphaned Works are that gray area between Public Domain and material currently under copyright. It's a case where no one seems to know exactly who is the rights holder of the material in question.

That made me think about many of the licensed properties that have shown up in comics over the years. The Wild Wild West comics from long ago have entered into public domain even though the show itself has not.

So what about other licensed comics? Like this classic 1969 Hanna Barbera TV Superheroes comic?

Would this be counted as an Orphan Work?


Britt Reid said...

"Orphaned works" are based on the idea you can't find the original owner.
Hanna-Barbera is easy to find.
1) If the property the comic is based on is now PD, the comic is PD.
(Like the Dell Steve Reeves Hercules comics)
2) If the copyright of the comic wasn't renewed (as was the requirement pre-1978), the comic is PD, even if the property it's based on isn't.
(Classic examples are the 1940s Fleisher Superman cartoons or the Flash Gordon serials.
The toons/serials are PD, Superman and Flash Gordon aren't.)
You can reprint/reissue them.
Look at all the different versions of those films that are available on VHS/DVD/BluRay...
3) If the initial copyright wasn't done properly, the comic is PD from Day One.
Lots of Charlton and Tower comics fit this category...
NOTE: Because, in most cases, the underlying property is still TMed (like Superman), you probably shouldn't do a derivative work/sequel to the PD comic story.
You could make a legal case for it, but unless you're a major corporation, you probably couldn't afford the legal bills...

Jim Shelley said...

@Britt - this comic is pre-1978 would it fall into Public Domain (like the Superman cartoons?) I doubt Dell or HB (Time Warner) have ever renewed the copyright.


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