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  1. #1
    Incredible Member 5Eyes's Avatar
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    Question Squadron Supreme, The Great Society, How is it possible!

    Before I pose my question I want you to know I'm a bigger Marvel fan then DC, and I like Squadron Supreme , and especially the evolution of Hyperion, I also like the intro of The Great Society..

    I can understand how Squadron Supreme can be created .. the Parody laws and Fair Use exception (at the time) was still very opened and not well defined .. and SS did started off as a true parody base character but the Great Society it seems like a total rip, what exception did they use to able to pull off that stunt ??

  2. #2
    Incredible Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5Eyes View Post
    Before I pose my question I want you to know I'm a bigger Marvel fan then DC, and I like Squadron Supreme , and especially the evolution of Hyperion, I also like the intro of The Great Society..

    I can understand how Squadron Supreme can be created .. the Parody laws and Fair Use exception (at the time) was still very opened and not well defined .. and SS did started off as a true parody base character but the Great Society it seems like a total rip, what exception did they use to able to pull off that stunt ??
    I'll take a crack at answering this.

    I don't think U.S. laws about "parody" and "fair use" have all that much to do with how Marvel was able to legally get away with creating the Squadron Supreme in the first place. After all, Hyperion's name was significantly different from "Superman," and his costume was very different. On the other hand, when Marvel's "What The--?! #7" showed the long-awaited face-to-face encounter (and obligatory mass slugfest) of the Revengers and the Just-A-League, that was definitely a case of "only getting it away with it because it's blatant parody." (The same way Mad Magazine does lots of parodies of blockbuster movies in which they do "humorously skewed" versions of titles and character names and the plot and so forth.)

    65893.jpg

    But as I understand the way the courts generally interpret the copyright laws, DC does not -- for instance -- own exclusive rights to such generic concepts as "this superhero can run really, really, really fast." They only own copyrights on specific character concepts who use the name "Flash" and have the ability to run really, really, really fast and wear certain distinctive costume designs (such as Jay Garrick's Golden Age costume or Barry Allen's Silver Age costume).

    In other words: Marvel doesn't need to beg DC for permission before it can publish a story with a group of superheroes called "The Great Society" which includes a heroine called "Boundless" who can run really, really, really fast. But if she wore a blatant copy of Barry Allen's outfit, then there'd be a problem. (Likewise, there's no law against Marvel creating a new extraterrestrial superhero, a teammate of Boundless's, who is a member of a green-skinned species. DC does not own a copyright on the broad concept of "green-skinned aliens.")

    Incidentally, it might interest you to know that a character name -- such as the colorful costumed alias -- is not automatically "copyright-protected" all by itself, either. A character name is, I think, simply too small to really count as "a unique and copyrightable piece of intellectual property" in its own right. (I've heard the same applies to the words or phrases used as titles of novels, movies, TV shows, etc.) Some years ago, I used to amuse myself (and other comic book fans) by doing annual updates of a list of all the times when Marvel and DC have each used the same names for different characters who are not supposed to have anything to do with one another.

    At last count, I had found 1139 "shared aliases." Examples which have been used on both sides of the fence include Captain Marvel, Huntress, Mockingbird, Oracle, Doctor Doom, Doctor Destiny, Magneto, Professor X, Phoenix, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, Catwoman/Cat Woman, Spider Girl/Spider-Girl, Kingpin, Spoiler, Mister Sinister, Miss America, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Electro, Sandman . . . you get the idea. (And as far as I know, none of those cases of duplication have led to big messy lawsuits!)

    Here's a link if you want to see the full results of my research (which included hundreds of helpful suggestions from other comic book fans who liked what I was doing): Character Aliases that Marvel and DC Have Both Used (5th Draft)
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 05-22-2014 at 10:20 AM.

  3. #3
    Incredible Member 5Eyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    I'll take a crack at answering this.

    I don't think U.S. laws about "parody" and "fair use" have all that much to do with how Marvel was able to legally get away with creating the Squadron Supreme in the first place. After all, Hyperion's name was significantly different from "Superman," and his costume was very different. On the other hand, when Marvel's "What The--?! #7" showed the long-awaited face-to-face encounter (and obligatory mass slugfest) of the Revengers and the Just-A-League, that was definitely a case of "only getting it away with it because it's blatant parody." (The same way Mad Magazine does lots of parodies of blockbuster movies in which they do "humorously skewed" versions of titles and character names and the plot and so forth.)

    65893.jpg

    But as I understand the way the courts generally interpret the copyright laws, DC does not -- for instance -- own exclusive rights to such generic concepts as "this superhero can run really, really, really fast." They only own copyrights on specific character concepts who use the name "Flash" and have the ability to run really, really, really fast and wear certain distinctive costume designs (such as Jay Garrick's Golden Age costume or Barry Allen's Silver Age costume).

    In other words: Marvel doesn't need to beg DC for permission before it can publish a story with a group of superheroes called "The Great Society" which includes a heroine called "Boundless" who can run really, really, really fast. But if she wore a blatant copy of Barry Allen's outfit, then there'd be a problem. (Likewise, there's no law against Marvel creating a new extraterrestrial superhero, a teammate of Boundless's, who is a member of a green-skinned species. DC does not own a copyright on the broad concept of "green-skinned aliens.")

    Incidentally, it might interest you to know that a character name -- such as the colorful costumed alias -- is not automatically "copyright-protected" all by itself, either. A character name is, I think, simply too small to really count as "a unique and copyrightable piece of intellectual property" in its own right. (I've heard the same applies to the words or phrases used as titles of novels, movies, TV shows, etc.) Some years ago, I used to amuse myself (and other comic book fans) by doing annual updates of a list of all the times when Marvel and DC have each used the same names for different characters who are not supposed to have anything to do with one another.

    At last count, I had found 1139 "shared aliases." Examples which have been used on both sides of the fence include Captain Marvel, Huntress, Mockingbird, Oracle, Doctor Doom, Doctor Destiny, Magneto, Professor X, Phoenix, Iron Fist, Ghost Rider, Catwoman/Cat Woman, Spider Girl/Spider-Girl, Kingpin, Spoiler, Mister Sinister, Miss America, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Electro, Sandman . . . you get the idea. (And as far as I know, none of those cases of duplication have led to big messy lawsuits!)

    Here's a link if you want to see the full results of my research (which included hundreds of helpful suggestions from other comic book fans who liked what I was doing): Character Aliases that Marvel and DC Have Both Used (5th Draft)

    I gave up in getting this question answered .. but thanks for your time to answer.. and do found your answer worth pondering ... but still I find the Great Society does cross a line even though it is not as (you put it) a blatant copy the similarities could not be mistaken ... I certainly would have thought you could sue for copyright infringement ...

    Anyways I did enjoy the "What the ??" pic and the list of alias name ...

  4. #4
    The Gold Standard The4orTy67's Avatar
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    Anyone else want a new Squadron Supreme ongoing?

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    I'd like that, or a revisiting of the Supreme Power universe to see if there's anything salvageable.

  6. #6
    The Gold Standard The4orTy67's Avatar
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    I loved Supreme Power. They seriously need to get hold of JMS and force him to write Squadron Supreme #8.

  7. #7
    Fantastic Member strathcona's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5Eyes View Post
    I gave up in getting this question answered .. but thanks for your time to answer.. and do found your answer worth pondering ... but still I find the Great Society does cross a line even though it is not as (you put it) a blatant copy the similarities could not be mistaken ... I certainly would have thought you could sue for copyright infringement ...

    Anyways I did enjoy the "What the ??" pic and the list of alias name ...
    Why does Great Society cross a line that Squadron Supreme doesn't cross?

    I LOVE that issue of What The?! I think I still have it some where.

    Quote Originally Posted by The4orTy67 View Post
    Anyone else want a new Squadron Supreme ongoing?
    Yes, but I want the original Squadron, not the Supreme Power version.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member electr1cgoblin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The4orTy67 View Post
    Anyone else want a new Squadron Supreme ongoing?
    Sure. I"m a huge fan of the Gruenwald series and while I thought the JMS was depressingly violent and dark, it had a lot of merit, too.

    A new series? Kurt Busiek would be ideal, but my guess is he won't be doing any mainstream Marvel or DC work soon. Jeff Parker deserves a crack at this, I'd say...or maybe Christos Gage.

  9. #9

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    They're not using DC's trademarks and copyright covers the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.

    It's all good.

  10. #10
    Incredible Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expletive Deleted View Post
    They're not using DC's trademarks and copyright covers the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves.

    It's all good.
    On a similar note: I was recently involved in a thread where a bunch of us were trying to list all of the comic book characters we could think of who might reasonably be considered "imitators" or "analogs" of Superman. We ended up with a long list. To be fair, I recall that at least two of those characters who debuted in the Golden Age, soon after Superman did, were eventually shut down because of lawsuits from DC (although in the case of Fawcett's Captain Marvel, it took 12 years for DC to "win," and by that time Fawcett was ready to throw in the towel anyway because the bottom was dropping out of the once-thriving market for superhero comics). But since then, dozens of other "knockoffs" have simply been tolerated by DC, probably because the people running DC (or Time Warner) realize that things have long since reached the point where a court of law is not likely to find in their favor.

    Here's a link to the thread where we were compiling the names: List of Superman imitations

    (Incidentally, some of the other names on the list were basically "knockoffs of Fawcett's Captain Marvel," so whether or not you think they belong on there will depend on how you feel about the "rights" and "wrongs" of the old lawsuit I mentioned.)
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 05-22-2014 at 04:38 PM.

  11. #11
    Incredible Member 5Eyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strathcona View Post
    Why does Great Society cross a line that Squadron Supreme doesn't cross?
    IMO Squadron Supreme or I should say Squadron Sinister started of as the antithesis of who they were based on and evolve from there.. that's why I brought up the parody argument .. While the Great Society just from the start seems like a carbon copy ..

  12. #12
    Mighty Member Peter Parker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elect1cgoblin View Post
    Sure. I"m a huge fan of the Gruenwald series and while I thought the JMS was depressingly violent and dark, it had a lot of merit, too.

    A new series? Kurt Busiek would be ideal...
    I think his Astro City is partially the exploration of a Justice League style universe.

  13. #13
    Mighty Member electr1cgoblin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Parker View Post
    I think his Astro City is partially the exploration of a Justice League style universe.
    Yes, I agree.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5Eyes View Post
    I gave up in getting this question answered .. but thanks for your time to answer.. and do found your answer worth pondering ... but still I find the Great Society does cross a line even though it is not as (you put it) a blatant copy the similarities could not be mistaken ... I certainly would have thought you could sue for copyright infringement ...
    The similarities are there, but most people reading the story recognize it as a spoof. Things might be different if Marvel tried to publish a Great Society ongoing. Then DC might have a claim that Marvel was trying to infringe on their characters. My understanding is that DC's lawyers DID talk to Marvel's lawyers during the 80's over the first Squadron mini-series. No action was taken, but well...they all had a talk.

    Fun fact: Marvel's lawyers supposedly went after Dave Sim's Cereberus that contained a Wolverine parody. Dave didn't get sued, but when he reprinted the story, Dave included a disclaimer on the cover stating that Wolveroach had no connection to Marvel's Wolverine.

  15. #15
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    i'd rather see more of the Supreme Power universe. i hate what happened to it after JMS left.

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