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Stan The Man

The Trial of Stan the Man vs Copyright Law

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Posted (edited)

Hey True Believers!


This is not some tedious rant against Copyright Law or the Homecoming's Team for what they have done/are doing.  No, instead this is a potential farewell to the game and all my friends on Excelsior!  Or, at least, as far as my Main Character is concerned.  I'll still be around under an alias and fighting the good fight with the rest of the Heroes (and Villians (and everyone in-between)) but honestly I'm stumped on the Copyright Law and would like your advice on whether or not I violate it.

The name itself isn't exactly under copyright.  Stan the Man could refer to lots of people. Stan Lee the comic book writer, Stan Longindis the Austrailian kickboxer, Stan Rofe the Australian radio dj, Stan Stasiak the American professional wrestler, Stan Collymore  the English Footballer, Don Stanhouse the American baseball player, Stan Wawrinka the Swis tennis player, etc...  so no problem there I suppose.

Then there are my costumes.  Obviously, I'm modeled after Stan Lee and I obviously reference him quite a bit. But is he a copyrighted character?  Technically he's a real world flesh and blood human being that I've modeled myself after.  And I'm not sure how copyright fares against using images of real world people.  I imagine it makes no difference. That's not to say Stan Lee hasn't appeared in a comic or other media as, well, an iconic character.  To be honest, when I made this character in City of Heroes when it came back, I didn't think I'd actually get the name at all!  And while I'm not keen on potentially dishonoring Stan Lee's legacy by portraying him in a Comic Book MMO, I feel it gives me a purpose to keep the legend alive, so to speak.  A duty to hold myself to a higher standard.   Which, includes, disassembling my Super Group of Parody/Homage characters.  And potentially deleting this account as well in order to ensure that City of Heroes: Homecoming doesn't ever come under fire for my character's very existence.

I'm not sure how many people are going to advocate I stay, or just change my character, but if there are any.  Thank you.

As for those who might be furious that I even made the character at all, it was never my intention to upset you.

And finally, to those who think I should remove my character, I respectfully will do so if I'm instructed to by a GM or anyone on the Homecoming Staff.

So, I guess this might be good-bye to all of you out there.  I know I haven't really contributed a lot to these forums or to the game as much as I would have hoped.   But I'm glad I got to at least see the Trick or Treat event.  You can catch me on Excelsior today before my character is probably Generic-ed.

See you all in the game we all love.

Keep fighting the good fight.

'Nuff said.


 

The Trial of Stan the Man.png

Edited by Stan The Man
Didn't know we could upload pictures. Fix'd!
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Posted (edited)

I dont know how the generic stick is going to hit costumes...but if you have one costume dedicated to being a regular hero/villain and keep your specific costumes that show who you are mimicking to your own private edification you might not have an issue on that front.  If they generic every costume in violation you might indeed have an issue.  Regarding the names, why not just preemptively change them to something more obscure so the references are less obvious and therefore less likely to be reported?  

 

My understanding is that you won't lose anything, not your account nor character, just that they will have to be changed.  No reason to delete an account or go all 'farewell' over it.  Back on live I had a toon genericed because I was ignorant of the IP I accidentally violated, I got a free name change (which are free on HC anyway) and a free tailor token (which HC has said is what they will give).  It had 0 effect on my account in general.  Regarding your SG you (as group leader) can petition in-game for a name change for the group if you feel it may not be in compliance.

 

The sky is not falling!  😀

Edited by EmmySky
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You are allowed a very far and wide amount of leeway when things can be said to be done with parody or satire, but homage is not quite the same thing. Still this is modeled after a real life person and that person is not copyrighted. I could make a character called 'The Donald' or "Obama" without breaking copyright law. However, the only place this gets murky is that Stan Lee is a real person and a copyrighted character because he has been in comic books as well. I think if your character is based on the man himself it should be ok.

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19 minutes ago, EmmySky said:

I dont know how the generic stick is going to hit costumes...but if you have one costume dedicated to being a regular hero/villain and keep your specific costumes that show who you are mimicking to your own private edification you might not have an issue on that front.  If they generic every costume in violation you might indeed have an issue.  Regarding the names, why not just preemptively change them to something more obscure so the references are less obvious and therefore less likely to be reported?  

 

My understanding is that you won't lose anything, not your account nor character, just that they will have to be changed.  No reason to delete an account or go all 'farewell' over it.  Back on live I had a toon genericed because I was ignorant of the IP I accidentally violated, I got a free name change (which are free on HC anyway) and a free tailor token (which HC has said is what they will give).  It had 0 effect on my account in general.  Regarding your SG you (as group leader) can petition in-game for a name change for the group if you feel it may not be in compliance.

 

The sky is not falling!  😀

I should clarify.  I'm not going anywhere, the account is.  I have a second account already that recreated all my toons on CoH.  I'm perfectly happy to modify Stan the Man, within reason, but I'd much rather play my original characters from CoH than hold onto this account/character if it is at all in violation.   The sky is certainly not falling and thank you for your advice and sharing your personal experiences.

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You forgot the biggest non-Stan Lee “Stan the Man”! Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals! He predates Stan Lee’s use of the nickname. 
 

as to your copyright question, Stan is a tough one because he is a real person and a cameo icon (both in comics as well as movies) so he might fall und the copyright jurisdiction. His roll is unique so I don’t think he “money producing asset” like Wolverine or Batman, so I think you would be safe from scrutinizing eyes. 
 

on a side note, I think you should have other costumes of all the different Stan the Mans (Stan the Men?)! Be more of a universal force of Stan-ness. You harness the Stan Force, which has traveled through time and space to various Stans found worthy of being...The Man! ‘Nuff Said!

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1 hour ago, Darkir said:

I could make a character called 'The Donald' or "Obama" without breaking copyright law.

You would not break any copyright law but you would break server rules :

3.
Do not impersonate others

  1. This includes Homecoming staff, NCSOFT staff, players, other prominent members of the wider City of Heroes community and real-world individuals

Controversial and adult content, including:

  • Sexual, provocative, pornographic, or adult content
  • Violent content
  • Controversial religious content
  • Anything involving controversial real-world individuals or organisations
  • Anything involving sensitive events, both current and historical

 

 

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Due to Stan Lee portraying himself in the movie Mall Rats, and Him appearing in so many of the MCU films, it is entirely possible that disney owns the image rights to Stan Lee in film and games.

 

Now I dont think you really cross any lines, but with the goal of making a deal with NC Soft its hard to say what hoops they are prepared to go through and bars they are willing to limbo under to make it work.

 

Honestly, I am right there with you OP. My Lore Based characters all drawn from the lore of coh once were safe because of Paragon Studios and and the games admin deeming such perfectly fine. Now technically since HC has put their foot down on copy right, its hard to say for sure if using names drawn from lore in the game is safe or not.

 

Now if not, I wont fight it, if I must set aside the identity of Bentley Berkeley, the Invisible Falcon, T'Keron Valmaz, Demetrios Vasilikos and more I recognize that due to no longer being under NC Soft directly the HC team cant give me the same permission so I can only wait and see what the HC team will do.

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Well the should be safe, unless your character bio is going to start to include BBQ Sauce, Sports Memorabilia, or Sprinkler Systems.  (Those are the only areas where the phrase "Stan the Man" is trademarked).  Marvel has not trademarked "Stan the Man"

 

As for real world people, they cannot be copyrighted.  You are allowed to use another real person's likeness in a non-commercial setting legally.  Marvel cannot copyright Stan Lee.

 

That just leaves the face, which I would imagine Marvel has a Trademark for.  I'm pretty sure I've seen him in the cover corner several times.  But Trademark should not apply as long as not effort is made to market the character.  Homecoming does not have a specific trademark policy, but rather a copyright policy, which should not apply.

 

Ultimately, since you are making this a public worry, why not just petition yourself to the GM's?  They'll make the decision and notate it.  It's not my judgment nor yours nor the forums that decides this, it's ultimately HC's interpretation of it's rules.   And since you've posted this, I'm sure some troll somewhere has already petitioned it...Just get ahead of it.

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Posted (edited)

Given what a certain rather prolific player gets away with on Everlasting, I doubt HC would come after you for this.

Not impossible, as noted by the above-mentioned impersonation rule.  But precedent seems to show they don't make too much effort regarding it unless you actively start trying to convince everyone you are that person (which would be hard in Stan's case).

Edited by Lazarillo
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If portraying a well known character was illegal then every  impressionist around the world would be in jail. Parody and homage are allowed. Trying to pass yourself off as the real person in illegal but impersonation for humorous or homage is perfectly acceptable.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Securityuniform said:

Parody and homage are allowed.

I think this is 1/2 right.  Parody is allowed, but parody requires that you must be making fun of the source material in a meaningful way.

 

I think the OP would say that parody is not his intent.  He is wishing to honor the late great Stan Lee

 

Homage enjoys no copyright protection under the law at this point.  So it’s not necessarily allowed.  And I only say not necessarily, because no one’s really tested how fair it extends in this arena (fan art and cosplay are examples of homage that are not allowed under the le, but no one seems to be pushing a case against it)

 

However it’s moot here, because real

life people can’t be copyrighted.  There is absolutely NO copyright issue at play here.

 

Trademark?  That’s another story...but it also does not enjoy “homage” exceptions either

Edited by justicebeliever
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"The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth." - Niels Bohr

 

Global Handle: @JusticeBeliever ... Home servers on Live: Guardian ... Playing on: Everlasting

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The way I understand it is this

 

Tribute characters that resemble a copy right character in name and appearance should be fine

 

Direct copies in name and appearance are not fine.

 

So if I make a shield using character named Commander USA and he wears red white and blue, as long as the costume isn't a direct match of captain America, then that character should be ok.

 

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Stan Lee is a trademark of POW Entertainment, LLC. Just FYI.

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I think I should make a Villian named Copyright Law and challenge Stan The Man to a public duel...

 

In fact, that is how all 'reported violations' should be handled - if you can beat Coypright Law, you get to keep the character as-is!

 

It's about as accurate and reasonable as the current 'rules'.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, davpa said:

I think you should have other costumes of all the different Stan the Mans (Stan the Men?)! Be more of a universal force of Stan-ness. You harness the Stan Force, which has traveled through time and space to various Stans found worthy of being...The Man! 

I considered that actually!  Great minds, huh?  Right now my costumes are mostly tributes to my personal favorite Cameos by Stan Lee.   But we'll see.  I'll keep that as an option.
 

11 minutes ago, jubakumbi said:

I think I should make a Villian named Copyright Law and challenge Stan The Man to a public duel...

I think this is a wonderful idea!  It doesn't have to be a villain, though.   It could easily be a hero.   Lawful Goods can also be a pain in the backside too.   Though, I suppose if your ruling went against normal law then yeah, I could see that being more a villain.  Maybe a Vigilante or Rogue?  A Rogue Judge.   Huh.

Also, you should know, I'm not much of a PVPer in this game so the odds are probably in your favor.  Still would be fun to try!

Edited by Stan The Man
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2 minutes ago, Stan The Man said:

I think this is a wonderful idea!  It doesn't have to be a villain, though.   It could easily be a hero.   Lawful Goods can also be a pain in the backside too.   Though, I suppose if your ruling went against normal law then yeah, I could see that being more a villain.  Maybe a Vigilante or Rogue?  A Rogue Judge.   Huh.

Also, you should know, I'm not much of a PVPer in this game so the odds are probably in your favor.  Still would be fun to try!

If I made the character for this purpose, it would have only Fear and Confuse, perhaps a petless MM with the Presence Pool, so it would be very easy to defeat.

I definately think Vigilante would, in fact, be the right choice as well.

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1 hour ago, Nericus said:

The way I understand it is this

 

Tribute characters that resemble a copy right character in name and appearance should be fine

 

Direct copies in name and appearance are not fine.

 

So if I make a shield using character named Commander USA and he wears red white and blue, as long as the costume isn't a direct match of captain America, then that character should be ok.

 

This depends on who you ask.  Quite a lot of people here who believe even close approximation is a no no and will report it on sight.  Just look at how quickly the Comic Con farms in AE were auto-closed due to player reports for infringements.  And how exactly are "tribute", "parody" and "direct copy" defined?  The costume creator doesn't have many of the unique costume pieces or logos etc. to even make a close replica for any number of copyrighted characters, so it is more than clear direct copies cannot be created of all characters.

 

Final say on what is / is not acceptable here is with the HC folk.  From their various posts in these threads, they seem more than willing to help with any questions, so best to ask them if you are not sure. 

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At this point, Stan Lee is a historical figure.  I had many characters named and looking like historical figures to the best of my ability on old live: Betsy Ross, William Shakespeare, Madame Nhu, Abe Lincoln, Hideki Tojo, and a couple more obscure ones like Ranavalona and Giulia Tofana.  Never had an issue with them. 

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2 hours ago, Nericus said:

Tribute characters that resemble a copy right character in name and appearance should be fine

 

Direct copies in name and appearance are not fine.

I think this is a distinction without a difference in the eyes of copyright law.  Neither has been historically OK under the law.  Again, it seems like the companies don't care as much, since they aren't pursuing cosplay and fan art.  But lack of pursuit does not constitute legality.

 

38 minutes ago, ShardWarrior said:

And how exactly are "tribute", "parody" and "direct copy" defined? 

Parody is defined my dear @ShardWarrior, as something a reasonable person would assume is making fun of the source material.  Like all visual media, you gotta show it to evaluate it, and it's not something you can program into a computer, but rather something you'd ask 12 people, who have been vetted to be without bias, to make their best determination on.  And all the other examples, "tribute", "homage","direct copy" are the same thing in the eyes of copyright.

 

All of this is moot here, because:

35 minutes ago, Heraclea said:

At this point, Stan Lee is a historical figure.  I had many characters named and looking like historical figures to the best of my ability on old live: Betsy Ross, William Shakespeare, Madame Nhu, Abe Lincoln, Hideki Tojo, and a couple more obscure ones like Ranavalona and Giulia Tofana.  Never had an issue with them. 

You can't copyright real people.  Dead or alive.  Copyright ONLY applies to man made things


Trademark is a horse of a different color, but shouldn't apply here either, since this is a non-commercial venture, and isn't covered in the Code of Conduct.

 

But @ShardWarriorsaid it best here:

42 minutes ago, ShardWarrior said:

Final say on what is / is not acceptable here is with the HC folk.  From their various posts in these threads, they seem more than willing to help with any questions, so best to ask them if you are not sure. 

 

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May the wisdom of Solomon guide their decision on this. 

 

I'd hate to see such a touching, and earnest tribute end, due to efforts in getting right with the copyright issues.

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Well Warcraft installed a tribute of an elderly man named Stanley that walks around says excelsior, fades away and spawns again later.

 

Didnt they also add a tribute to Robin williams with assorted Mork items on the ground and a lamp with a genie that emerges? Obviously the genie does not look like the Disney one as that would be bad.

 

Also didn't the original rules back in the day frown on copies of celebrities or am I in error?

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If anything applied, wouldn't it be various publicity rights laws? Which is even more difficult to judge since each state has their own laws, and so does the UK and any other countries the game is played in. 

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1 hour ago, ShardWarrior said:

This depends on who you ask.  Quite a lot of people here who believe even close approximation is a no no and will report it on sight.  Just look at how quickly the Comic Con farms in AE were auto-closed due to player reports for infringements.  And how exactly are "tribute", "parody" and "direct copy" defined?  The costume creator doesn't have many of the unique costume pieces or logos etc. to even make a close replica for any number of copyrighted characters, so it is more than clear direct copies cannot be created of all characters.

 

Final say on what is / is not acceptable here is with the HC folk.  From their various posts in these threads, they seem more than willing to help with any questions, so best to ask them if you are not sure. 

Well what I posted stems from a private chat I had regarding a character of mine that I had on live with no problem, and want to fully restore here.

 

So as I understand it, tribute characters that resemble but are not copies in costume or name should not be a problem. 

 

Example, naming a character Sister Psyche shouldn't be allowed but a character that somewhat looks like her and called Madame Psyche or Miss Psyche should be cool.  Step Sister Psyche might be pushing it.

 

Making a character called Statesman shouldn't be allowed but after his demise the  tribute characters arose.  I remember seeing Statesman 3000, statesman Prime, Praetorian Statesman,  Empowered Statesman and so forth. All in costumes inspired by States including the Statesman helmet, but exact copies then and now can't be done.  Ncsoft never seemed to object.

 

Also back in the day didn't the game have a list in the database of copyright character names that would be marked as unavailable if someone tried to use it?  If so, perhaps that needs to be reinstated by the staff or else implemented anew by the staff.

 

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17 minutes ago, MunkiLord said:

If anything applied, wouldn't it be various publicity rights laws? Which is even more difficult to judge since each state has their own laws, and so does the UK and any other countries the game is played in. 

Publicity laws only apply to commercial ventures.  You don’t own your face, but you own the sole right to make $$ off it.

 

Is HC a commercial venture?  At this point in time and space I believe so.  They haven’t formed a non-profit yet, and as such they are.

 

Are they using a likeness of a Stan Lee to generate the financial gifts they receive?  No.  So it really shouldn’t be an issue

 

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16 minutes ago, Nericus said:

Also back in the day didn't the game have a list in the database of copyright character names that would be marked as unavailable if someone tried to use it?  If so, perhaps that needs to be reinstated by the staff or else implemented anew by the staff.

 

Not a great idea. Because far too many people believe that Marvel owns names like Wolverine and Black Widow—which they absolutely do not. Yes, Marvel owns the copyright on Wolverine: the cigar-smoking mutant with pointy claws. But they do not own the copyright on Wolverine: the Canadian flag-wearing dude with a magic hockey stick. A human being can glance at those two and immediately see there's no copyright infringement. A computer database can't.

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