The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Copyright Issues (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page [Previous]  1~2~3~4~5~6 [Next]
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Just had a note from Clinton Detweiler, retired owner of Maher Studios. He said he will post his position on figure usage rights on his blog soon.

http://www.newsyvents.blogspot.com/


In an e-mail from Al Stevens, figure maker, ventriloquist and musician:
Quote:
(You may post this response into the forum.)

A figuremaker owns the copyright to the figures he or she designs and builds unless a figure is built under the terms of a "work for hire" agreement negotiated before work begins. Copyright reserves to the copyright holder the right to make or license copies.

I question the need for a "media usage fee" as you've described it, however, and would not charge one. A search of copyright law returns no mention of that. Perhaps it is known by another name or is covered by another set of laws. More likely the figuremaker you mention asked for money because you asked about it.

All that notwithstanding, it is in the best interests of ventriloquists to own the copyrights to any custom figures they use. Some day you might become famous and wish to sell replicas of your characters.

Jeff Dunham has first-hand experience with this issue. He redesigned and rebuilt two of his characters so there could be no questions about their copyrights. As I understand it, he did this prior to releasing his first DVD because the lawyers said he should, but I don't know the details. Jeff would be the guy to ask about this.

Copyright law is widely misunderstood and misrepresented by lay people who
engage in discussions about it. People often argue their views of what ought
to be right without fully understanding the law. Don't make a career decision based on what you read in an Internet discussion group. Consult a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law with experience in issues related to the entertainment industry.

Best regards,
Al Stevens



You guys will get sick of seeing my posts - but I've been getting e-mails from puppet makers who have told me I could post their responses on the forum.

I've takens bits of this one because there was some personal information in there.

From Puppets By Cher:
Quote:
The copyright is for those who decide to buy one of my puppets, rip them apart, make patterns and they try to duplicate them selling them with their name on them.

So to answer your questions...
Yes, by all means you have my blessings to perform with the big guy, take him on bike ride......................... drive with in the car with the top down.. I don't care... hee hee....

My copyrights are pretty simple and I don't ever ask for royalties like Pierre from Monster puppets does.
that's just not right.
A builder should be honored to have someone look at your creation and find a voice for him.

Cher sells her puppets through ebay to benefit charity. She offers a lifetime repair on pieces you purchase from her as long as you don't abuse them - which is true customer service. I own one of her creations - I call him Sammy and he is always well received by audiences.

If you aren't familiar with her work, please visit her site at:
Puppets & Art Creations
http://www.puppetsbycher.homestead.com

Thanks Cher for your thoughts and making your policy available to us!

(Disclaimer - I am not familiar with Monster Puppets policy quoted by Cher. If Anyone knows them or uses their figures, please invite them to let us know!)
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
The information that is developing and being discussed should be pinned, so it is for all time.

Thanks Tom.
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Yet another figure maker weighs in via e-mail. This is from Dan Payes, who made my old man Maurice:
Quote:
You can use a figure you bought from me to make yourself and the figure as famous as you want. You Can not reproduce the product / character itself. (make duplicates) For example, make figures of the figure itself by making a mold of it etc. But that's pretty obvious! Other than that, print, video, etc. is all ok.... you don't even need to give me credit for it. I'm not a glory hound or anything. Smile

You can find Dan's work at:
http://www.danpayespuppetry.com/


And this from figure maker Steve Barry:
Quote:
The rights to use a puppet, in my opinion, are given to the buyer as soon as he pays for the figure. It belongs to him, therefore, he and only he, has the rights to that particular puppet. When the wording gets changed to "anything resembling" then, I would have an issue with that also. I think most of us feel that way. I'll keep checking your thread as I am curious as to what everyone else thinks.

Steve also raised an interesting point regarding sole rights to a figure, pointing out some makers use molds and cast multiple versions of their characters. In that case, they can not provide sole rights to perform a character.

When I started this thread, it was simply in regards to performance rights with a puppet or figure you have purchased. If you are looking for sole use of a character then you would need to contact a maker who does not mold their creations or consider a "work for hire" as mentioned by Al Stevens.

Thanks Steve for being a performer friendly maker! You can find information on Steve's work at his blog:
http://stevebarry.blogspot.com/
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
Dan Payes is about as easy to work with as anybody I ever did business with. Nice Quality Figures at super prices.

To all the 'makers' joining this thread thank you for the input regardless of your 'stand'. There are no wrong answers when individual positions are well thought out and all consequences considered.
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
axtell
View Profile
V.I.P.
Steve Axtell
2126 Posts

Profile of axtell
Awesome discussion. There have been some very good points raised and I am interested in your thoughts. I am thinking all this over and discussing it with my team. Have a great weekend. Ax
Axtell Expressions, Inc.
Pro Puppets, Magic & Animatronics
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Another e-mail comes in - this one from Robert McRay, noted artist and creator of the BigHead line of figures:
Quote:
I appreciate you asking, but you didn't have to. The only performance limitation with Deeder is the one you place on yourself and your act. I wish you all the success in the world and I appreciate any credit.

I cannot speak for other makers, as I approached it from more of an artistic direction. I was never in the "business" of selling a line of figures, but creating an individual sculpture for a client. As everyone who commissioned one of my mechanical sculpture knows, I did not sell the licensing rights. This means that they cannot reproduce or duplicate the original sculpture in any way, shape or form. This was done to ensure their "one-of-a-kind" status. While I respect the opinions of other artists and makers, I enjoy seeing the success any performer has with one of my sculptures.

Reproduction was, and remains my only concern (out of respect for the other BIGHEAD owners as well). My only request was that if anyone in the BIGHEAD community, sees someone copying a BIGHEAD, that you'll all form a posse and string that person up, heh, heh, heh.

My thoughts are that I wish you all the success in the world with your act. Go get em, get paid what you deserve and enjoy yourself in the whole process.

Although Robert no longer creates the BigHeads - you can see his body of work at:

http://www.robertmcray.net/Page_18x.html


Now here's an e-mail I received from Kem Poyner:
Quote:
Tom

I would be honored to have one of my figures on your DVD! I can't believe someone would expect compensation for free advertising. You have my permission to use any of my figures however you wish. (except maybe puppet porno)

Kem Poyner

You can find Kem's work at:
http://www.ventriloquistdummy.com/

If anyone does business with any other figure makers, please ask them their policy and share the information and their website with us.
Thanks!
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
Billy Sobe
View Profile
New user
8 Posts

Profile of Billy Sobe
Yesterday I spent an hour typing a message here, and my Internet connection stopped working.

olivertwist- Cool, I just play rhythm guitar, 50's and 60's rock and roll.
I agree learning vent is just like learning to play an instrument.

Wanlu-Thank you. If all goes well, I'll have my first figures ready to sell around the end of this year, or the beginning of next year.

Doug-Yep all of artists have our ways of making our creations. I'm still learning the business end of it. Hopefully I get everything sorted out.

Neil-If you go on the puppets and props site you will see 2 of my figures. But those are re-sculpted Fred heads. The ones I'll be selling will be cast from my original sculpts.
Did I show you my old man figure at vent haven?

Billy
Doug Higley
View Profile
V.I.P.
Here and There
7173 Posts

Profile of Doug Higley
Kem Poyner's "Tina" is awesome! (I like his other work as well. Beauifully finished.) How in heck can a male come up with a voice to match that babe! Smile (Wel...this male anyway.) Although the more I look at it the more I can 'hear' a Fran Dresser type voice as a counterpoint gag.

AX...you are at the top of the food chain in readilly available 'Characters'
...thanks for the thoughtful replies. It will pay off. Smile

Clinton's response is online at Newsy Vents. It is definitive.
Higley's Giant Flea Pocket Zibit
Wanlu
View Profile
Inner circle
Manila, Philippines
3058 Posts

Profile of Wanlu
Wow... this thread is making news all over the vent world Smile

I have a good feeling this will make history Smile

Thanks Tom and to everyone who repsonded to Tom's topic.
"The Old Path"
www.angdatingdaan.org

Wanlu's Affordable Puppets
http://wanlu.net/ventpuppets.html

Wanlu and his Puppets
http://wanlu.net
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Quote:
On 2008-06-06 15:03, Wanlu wrote:
Wow... this thread is making news all over the vent world Smile

Not just the vent world Wanlu - apparently word has been carried beyond this forum. I'm getting e-mails from clowns, magicians, puppeteers and puppet makers I've never met.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
Potty the Pirate
View Profile
Inner circle
4621 Posts

Profile of Potty the Pirate
I use many Axtell puppets, and have a huge amount of respect for Steve Axtell. Which is why, when I recently featured in a documentary, I informed Steve that some of his puppets may appear in the film. I then let Steve and the producer of the documentary thrash out the relevant fees that would be payable. I was slightly disappointed that the producers of the documentary informed me that due to the cost of the rights to show the puppets, they would only be showing one of my puppets in the film. This meant that my main sidekick "Squawk the Parrot" (Axtell's Pedro Parrot) never appeared. In fact, the only puppet that did appear was the neurotic rat, for all of about 15 seconds. The producers were clearly less than impressed that they had to pay a fee to show me working with Axtell puppets, and from my point of view, I felt that Steve had done himself a disservice; here was an opportunity for several of his characters to appear (albeit momentarily) on the BBC. But because of his policy of charging performing rights for TV coverage of his puppets, they were simply axed (pardon the pun) from the show.
It would have been nice if Squawk could have appeared in the documentary, especially as my favourite routine involves Squawk the Parrot and the Drawing Board.
But I don't really care one way or the other: if I were to have the chance, say, to appear regularly on TV, I would simply have someone else make me another puppet with no such restrictions, rather than use a puppet which costs every time it's used on TV. Although Axtell puppets are awesome, it is, of course, the performer who instills life and personality into the creature. My routines would work equally well with other puppets, but it's my choice to use Axtell's puppets.
So I do see this kind of policy as rather negative and fail to see how a few hundred bucks' fee can compare with media exposure, which is surely great for any manufacturer?
Just my 2c...
Doug.
Lou Hilario
View Profile
Inner circle
2225 Posts

Profile of Lou Hilario
I started selling my string and cable masks to magicians more than 10 years ago. I feel this is part of my contribution to the entertainment industry. I am proud to say that my masks are now being used worldwide.

I believe when it is sold, the owner has every right to use it as he / she wants to. I have never ever thought of this media rights issue. As a matter of fact, I am very excited to see my masks being used by amateurs, professionals and top entertainers in TV, movie, print and at the web. Credits would be nice but not a necessity for me.

I also believe that what I am selling is only a “tool”. It is up to the user on what he creates / builds with it.

Lou Hilario
“Sharing God’s Love through Laughter”
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
Red Shadow
View Profile
Inner circle
1779 Posts

Profile of Red Shadow
I will also point out that I've released a couple of books and DVDs, featuring some original ring tricks and I give full permission for anybody to use them. I would be honored to see my tricks being used by someone else, especially on TV.

I have never even thought about media rights, nor knew they existed until reading this thread. Now I'm concerned over my next project which was going to be based on puppets.
The other big puppet maker - Folkmanis. Do they have the same media policy?

If I bought any other puppet from the shop, how are you expected to find out about the rights issue?

Steve
The Great Smartini
View Profile
Inner circle
2280 Posts

Profile of The Great Smartini
I have the Axtell Remote Controlled Drawing Board and will soon be acquiring an Axtell Magic Chimp. For me, all of this discussion is centred around our right to use these puppets as we see fit and Steve's rights to maintain some control over the characters that he produces. I've read through this thread and I can see both sides of the issue. As such, I believe that Steve is one of the most respected and highly regarded producers of puppets/magic props in the industry and I would go along with his decision. If he says yes then everyone is happy. However, if he says no then I would think that a phone call or email to him regarding one's intended usage would likely be a conversation/issue that would be easily resolved.


Jeff Christensen (M. Ed.)
aka The Great Smartini - Magical Educator
olivertwist
View Profile
Special user
Nashua, NH
578 Posts

Profile of olivertwist
I hope Ax will come around on this. I love his figures but I will seek alternatives rather than be burdened with fees that I don't believe are justified. I've often come close to springing for the hands-off vent Toucan, but there is no way I'll sink that much money into a prop with strings attached (pun intended)(no offense to marionetters, Wanlu).

Can you imagine Izod asking Tiger Woods to pay a media fee to wear their shirt on TV!
Sponsors PAY artists to use their products in the media.
olivertwist
View Profile
Special user
Nashua, NH
578 Posts

Profile of olivertwist
Shoot. Maybe I better get Vern out of my avatar.
mthat
View Profile
New user
St. Paul, Minnesota
7 Posts

Profile of mthat
I've read the previous posts with interest, have some comments, and hope some of the previous writers will respond and clarify their position. I've been a magician, puppeteer, clown, and comedy performer, but am presently a lawyer and working on a practical legal book for performers. So your thoughts, comments and suggestions will be appreciated. I'm not licensed in all fifty states, so any response will be in a general and educational nature. More soon.

Glenn

1. Tom C you mentioned in this topics first post that you were creating a dvd of your act to sell. I assume you are also including music on the DVD which also have various mechanical fees and licenses. Are you objecting to paying all fees fees (including music), objecting to any fee by the creator of the puppet, or just objecting to a fee which would make distributing the dvd cost-prohibitive?

2. Tom nicely advocates that the dummy is just a prop like a Les Paul Guitar. Please clarify. I can substitute almost any well made guitar for another, and though the sound/tone may ne a little different, the performance by the musician will still be similar. Not so for professional puppets/dummies. For the sake of argument, vent dummies have a "character" which provides a starting personality (ex. . Changing a dummy for another can in most instances change the mood of the show, and require changes in the script, voice or performance. Not all characters are the same (ex. Ron Lucas' "dragon" and Disney "Figment" versus other generic dragons.) or would get the same response.

3. "Free Advertising" When I first started performing fourty years ago, I like many others was approached by people wanting me to do a show (for free advertising), and that the resulting exposure would bring in more clients (which rarely did). Exposure by pros can bring rewards, which is why Nike and other pay Tiger Woods for exposure. Similar exposure by amatuers can likewise hurt your business, which is why many amatuers have to pay to have products seen on their multimedia productions. That is why some companies just refuse to allow their products/property to be used in small productions. (Try licensing any Disney property for your local DVD). You can see many items not allowed to be shown on primetime tv in the blurred products/tshirts/etc. of many smaller tv productions.
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Glenn,
Thanks for joining us - I will be happy to provide answers from my point of view.

1. - On music, I would be using royalty free tracks purchased from Music Bakery and other sources. (In fact, the videographer has a library of tracks to choose from and he has the rights to use them on his projects.) There is no "usage" fee involved because you get the license when you buy the tracks.

I have no objection to the fee charged by the puppet maker, I've stated it is their right to do so. I believe it should have been included in the original purchase price. (Similar to the musical tracks - if they can do it, why not the figure maker?) I mentioned in an earlier post - when I bought the puppet, I paid the asking price. Had I not been able to afford it, I would have saved, or moved on to another company that provides the rights. Every other maker I deal with has now granted rights without charging additional fees.

Before you ask on the videographer - he too is being paid on a contract basis. Once the DVD is produced - he will not receive compensation for any sales or usage. His credits will be on the show.

2. I have to disagree with this point. Why will the performance of the musician be similar - but not the puppeteer? The puppet creates a visual - but the characters you mention would be nothing without the script, character, (created by performer) voice or performance. Imagine walking into a museum - having never seen Scorch (Ron Lucas' dragon), or Kermit the Frog. They are sitting in a case - you'd look at them and then move on to something more interesting.

Now watch those characters in the skilled hands of their talent. They are suddenly engaging, endearing and you want to watch them while you have a chance. It is NOT the figure - it is the talent. If it WERE the figure, anyone would have the same success with those characters!

If I change the puppet - how does the character and mood change? It is still me - my voice, my reflections, my timing and pacing of the routine. It is still me "playing and singing the song". The look of the puppet may be different but the audience doesn't know the puppet before I introduce it - they have no idea of what it will be like.

When I mentioned script change in an earlier post, it was subtle differences. One character was an animal, the other is a human figure. Obviously some jokes are changed but that is creativity. I write in "chunks". In a show, if I need to add a bit - some jokes I wrote for one puppet can be easily adapted to another. The puppet does not dictate the routine - the talent decides what the puppet will become.

3. You've got a great point on the "Free Advertising". However what about Youtube. There are some horrendous vent videos by people on Youtube. Most are playing and just giving it a try - no skill, looks bad. Is a company going to spend untold amounts of money to try and stop people from using their figures there? Would it be financially feasible? There is no money involved so I doubt it - but that is bad free exposure. Even Disney has characters lampooned there and they don't do it.

So perhaps you set up a deal with the site. Now, none of your work appears there. There are some great videos using puppets that performers watch when they are thinking of buying. As an example: I used Steve Axtell's dragon for his video contest. I had several people e-mail telling me they decided to go with the "smoke" feature after seeing that video. Did that translate to sales - I don't know, but I hope so for Steve. Removing all exposure to product there may have lost that potential sale/add-on feature.

If an act produces a video or DVD to try and market - and they are no good - exposure is extremely limited. They can do as much damage on stage offering free shows. The maker(s) in question did not even ask about script. If you are using the damage control reasoning - wouldn't they demand that? Just asking.

As for product exposure - just as many logos or product names are blanked out because the producer refuses to pay an overpriced fee to a company. I guess I could have talked to myself through a fuzzy dot for 10 minutes - but I didn't think of it until now. Smile

If you have any other questions for me, please ask. I'm stating my opinions - they are only opinions and I'm happy to change my mind if I get a good reason. And I will defend any maker's right to the fee - but I don't have to give them my business.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
axtell
View Profile
V.I.P.
Steve Axtell
2126 Posts

Profile of axtell
Good stuff. Let me be clear that we absolutely value the exposure of Axtell characters that you provide in your media. Our customers are everything to us. That relationship is clearly what we have focused on for our 25 years in business. Even the small time beginner brings joy to my heart when we see their first attempts with our characters...heck that's what the whole Axtell Puppet Video Challenge is all about. We proudly show ALL of the videos on our website. We bring in top names to be judges and to give advise and guidance. We did not charge a media rights fee for those, only copyright notice. We never have charged a fee for any video or media that is non-commercial. Your promo videos are not an issue.

At this time AXTELL EXCLUSIVE CUSTOM puppets are sold with full rights, including media and reproduction rights. In fact, if you buy a custom puppet and it becomes famous YOU can license out the character for royalties from your licensees. I don't think you will be freely giving those rights away to anyone that wants them. You will probably ask for a % of every product sold with it's face on it as you should. It may seem like light years away for you but it might not be. Terry Fator came into this very quickly and will be doing this very thing with the Axtell puppets we are building for him. They already have licensing deals in place with manufacturers.

AxTrax routines are produced as royalty free for use in your stage performances as printed on each script. If you want permission to use reproduce them on media please contact us.

The issue I am considering is the charging of a media rights fee for the use of our 60 plus stock puppet characters (on which we maintain VA copyrights)... for use on commercial media. Having a policy in place has several purposes, which clarifies our ownership of the character copyrights (VA) to the producer of the program so they don't unknowingly assume they can reproduce the character as toys or products, and to try to limit the use of our puppets in obscene or illegal programming that we would not want our characters to be associated with, etc.

Anyway...thank you for your thoughts on this issue. We remain involved and interested. I have received lots of private email on the subject, including other puppet makers who have not yet posted here. I would encourage everyone to add to the conversation...and perhaps we can arrive at a consensus which could be come an industry standard.

We are not the only media related puppet company who sell stock characters, or charges a fee for media use.

(by the way, our entire server host is down....so if I don't reply to an email, it's because I didn't receive it. All of our websites are down right now). You can always PM me here. Hopefully they will be back up soon.

Ax
Axtell Expressions, Inc.
Pro Puppets, Magic & Animatronics
tacrowl
View Profile
Inner circle
Maryland
1633 Posts

Profile of tacrowl
Quote:
On 2008-06-07 14:57, axtell wrote:
The issue I am considering is the charging of a media rights fee for the use of our 60 plus stock puppet characters (on which we maintain VA copyrights)... for use on commercial media. Having a policy in place has several purposes, which clarifies our ownership of the character copyrights (VA) to the producer of the program so they don't unknowingly assume they can reproduce the character as toys or products, and to try to limit the use of our puppets in obscene or illegal programming that we would not want our characters to be associated with, etc.


Steve -
Thanks for joining us again. I realize you are busy with projects, and we appreciate your time.

No one wants to take advantage of your copyright - a copyright credit should definitely be given - and it is that copyright that would legally stop anyone from trying to copy or reproduce your characters as toys or products. I'd be just as willing to defend those rights along with you - and report anyone who tried.

What I and some of the others would like to see happen is that media rights fee waived - or at least included in the stock figure price. Not just for your puppets - but for all professional puppet figures purchased to use for performance. Charge us the fee if you must - but make it easy - do not nickle and dime the acts each time they have an opportunity to promote themselves or their career.

In Potty's case, due to fees the producers limited the not only exposure of your puppets, but may have cut into his screen time as well. Your policy may have hindered, rather than helped promote his success. Exactly the opposite of what your company has always been about - the success of its clients.

You mention the puppet makers that haven't posted here. I have asked and been able to post the public content of e-mails of people I have been in touch with. Can you invite them to post? Or ask them if you can share their thoughts? The more eyes we see this through, the more informed we become.

Again, thanks for your post.
Tom
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

Image
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Copyright Issues (0 Likes)
 Go to page [Previous]  1~2~3~4~5~6 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.39 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL