Saturday, September 26, 2015

Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection; Wall Street Journal, 9/23/15

Joe Palazzolo, Wall Street Journal; Batmobile Wins Copyright Protection:
"The Batmobile is a car that has almost everything: weapons, ahead-of-its-time computers, wing-shaped tail fins and an assortment of gadgets perfectly suited to Batman’s diverse crime-fighting needs. (The Bat-ray of the 1960s version, for instance, opened enemy car doors, while the version driven by Michael Keaton fired a grappling hook that allowed him round corners at improbable speeds.)
On Wednesday, the Batmobile received another upgrade: copyright protection.
To determine whether characters in comic books, television shows or movies are entitled to such protection, courts conduct a three-part test. First, the character must have “physical as well as conceptual qualities.” It also has to be “sufficiently delineated” so people recognize it as the same character across time. And third, the character has to be “especially distinctive.”
The Batmobile passed the test in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with Judge Sandra S. Ikuta declaring in the introduction to Wednesday’s ruling, “Holy copyright law, Batman!”
DC Comics, the publisher and copyright owner of Batman comics, first introduced the Batmobile in 1941, just a few years after the Caped Crusader’s first comic book appearance."

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