Will Public Domain Comic Characters Go Back Into Copyright? Will DC Have To Abandon Black Dossier To The Winds?

Posted by January 20, 2012 Comment

Right now there is a clash between copyright systems between the USA and Europe. In the USA, anything created before 1922 is public domain. In Europe, it is seventy years after the death of the author. And there are some intriguing cases that have fallen between the two, including comic book adaptations of uses of Sherlock Holmes, the work of HG Wells and Peter Pan.

But now it seems that the US may be leaning to abandoning its 1922 provision which overrules the Berne convention on copyright law. On Wednesday, in a 6-2 ruling, the US Supreme court ruled that even though something has been made public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” And so, in the USA at least, foreign created or published works from 1922 or before that are not in the public domain in Europe, may affect their status in the USA.

Such as HG Wells’ War Of The Worlds created in the 1890s when Wells died in 1946. Or how about John Carter Of Mars, created in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who died in 1950. Whatever the copyright issues that prevented The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier from being published in the UK, could they now affect DC Comics directly?

One might look to see if Dynamite will have any issues with the likes of Project: Superpowers. Of course, Dynamite is party to other attempts to find ways to trademark public domain characters…

(Last Updated January 22, 2012 3:05 am )

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