Court: Batmobile entitled to copyright protection

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Appeals Court Finds Batmobile Is Entitled To Copyright Protection.

Batman will not have to worry about Batmobile knockoffs after a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the caped crusader’s vehicle is entitled to 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.) To determine whether characters in comic books, television shows or movies are entitled to such protection, courts conduct a three-part test.

The Batmobile, the indispensable crime-fighting vehicle driven by comic book hero Batman, has enough distinct character traits to qualify for copyright protection, a US appeals court has ruled. “As Batman so sagely told Robin, ‘In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,’” Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. The Batmobile’s appearance and other distinct attributes make it a character that cannot be replicated without permission from DC Comics, the copyright holder, the U.S.

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. The ruling came in DC Comics’ lawsuit against Mark Towle, who produced replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the late-1960s TV show featuring Adam West as Batman and the 1989 movie with Michael Keaton. Among the Batmobile’s traits she cited in her ruling was its sleekness and power, which allow Batman to maneuver quickly while he goes after bad guys. In its ruling, the 9th Circuit said Towle advertised each replica as the “Batmobile,” and used the domain name batmobilereplicas.com to market his business. The Batmobile has changed with the times and imaginations of its creators, but its core characteristics are immutable: “bat-like external features, ready to leap into action to assist Batman in his fight against Gotham’s most dangerous villains, and equipped with futuristic weaponry and technology,” as Judge Ikuta put it.

Additionally, there is no dispute that DC created the Batman character, and various licenses it has entered into over the years did not transfer its underlying property rights, Ikuta wrote. But the panel said that was akin to James Bond changing from swimming trunks to a tuxedo: It did not alter the car’s innate characteristics. ● Facebook said Wednesday that its news feed for Web and Android platform users will support 360-degree videos. Support for the iOS platform will follow in the coming months, company officials said. ● The federal government plans to lease nearly 344,000 acres of the ocean floor off the coast of New Jersey to companies interested in building offshore windmills to generate electricity. The Interior Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said that if fully developed, the leases could result in enough wind-generated electricity to power 1.2 million homes.

The leases are to be sold Nov. 9. ● West Texas Intermediate crude oil erased earlier gains Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. production increased 19,000 barrels a day last week to 9.14 million.

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