Saturday, July 31, 2010

Legal rulings can be fun

From Judge Barbara Crabb's finding that Todd McFarlane stole Neil Gaiman's character:

The two characters are similar enough to suggest that either Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn is derivative of Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn or it is the same character to which plaintiff owns the copyright.

Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn “rule” that Malebolgia never returns a Hellspawns to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years, as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4), it suggests that what defendant really wanted to do was exploit the possibilities of the knight introduced in issue no. 9. (This possibility is supported by the odd timing of defendant’s letter to plaintiff on February 14, 1999, just before publication of the first issue of Spawn The Dark Ages, to the effect that defendant was rescinding their previous agreements and retaining all rights to Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn.)

If defendant really wanted to differentiate the new Hellspawn, why not make him a Portuguese explorer in the 16th century; an officer of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, an idealistic recruit of Simon Bolivar in the 19th century, a companion of Odysseus on his voyages, a Roman gladiator, a younger brother of Emperor Nakamikado in the early 18th century, a Spanish conquistador, an aristocrat in the Qing dynasty, an American Indian warrior or a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I? It seems far more than coincidence that Dark Ages (McFarlane) Spawn is a knight from the same century as Medieval (Gaiman) Spawn.
Neil posted an tremendous photo of McFarlane here.

*Buy books by Neil Gaiman at Amazon.

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