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Image of Popeye Enters Public Domain In the EU 229

Posted by kdawson
from the yam-what-he-yam dept.
Several readers wrote in to mention that the copyright on the image of the character Popeye expired in the EU as the year began, 70 years since the death of its creator Elzie Segar. The US will have to wait until 2024, 95 years after Segar's death. Only Popeye's image is free of trademark in the EU; the name "Popeye" is still under copyright by King Features Syndicate. Popeye made his first appearance in a comic strip in 1929 and became hugely popular in the 1930s. The Times claims that Popeye now moves $2.8B of merchandise per year. Le Monde's coverage (in Google translation) mentions the real-life people in Segar's early experience who inspired some of the Popeye cast of characters. Popeye himself was based on the prize fighter Frank "Rocky" Fiegel.
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Image of Popeye Enters Public Domain In the EU

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  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:36PM (#26322435)
    Yes! Now I can finally start selling my comics with fanfic of Popeye's adventures when he still was a sailor.
    Lemme tell you, those are some saucy drawings! And you thought that spinach -only- grew his arm muscles?
    • I'll say! I thought I would never realize my dream of opening a non-franchise Popeye's Chicken in Luxembourge.

    • and i can finally make references to popular 1930's cartoon characters in my artistic works! hurray for copyright laws! god forbid we let artists/writers make references to popular cartoon characters while they're still culturally relevant!

      i just wish Matt Groening would hurry up and die so that i can wait 70 years after that to make references to popular 90's cartoon icons.

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Now I can finally start selling my comics with fanfic of Popeye's adventures when he still was a sailor.

      Tom of Finland [google.com] beat you to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot, now with more Wikipedia trivia!

    • by tobiasly (524456)
      You mean like how they're still making $2.8 BILLION each year in fucking POPEYE MERCHANDISE?! Are you shittin' me? Who the hell is buying all this crap?
  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:42PM (#26322489)

    The very existence of Mickey Mouse guarantees that nothing will ever again enter the public domain in the good old USA.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The very existence of Mickey Mouse guarantees that nothing will ever again enter the public domain in the good old USA.

      Just curious why it is critically important for the characters to be in public domain? People will still make money off them if they are in public domain but the parent company will likely loose business and have to lay off people. Why? Why does the public have rights over and above the creator? I ask this as an artist that has copyrighted characters. I'd rather have my grandchildren benefit from my creations than some guy that has a sweat shop in China cranking off cheapie knock offs. How is society better

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:24PM (#26322853)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_copyright#Opposition_to_copyright [wikipedia.org]

        I am a creator (music in my case) as well and I think limits on copyright actually have a value for society, specially if it comes to abandoned works, which is the majority of created works...

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by KDR_11k (778916)

          I'd rather see different treatment of active and abandoned works than a blanket duration. Something like if a work or a legally made derivative of it hasn't been available for (legal) purchase to the public (possibly with a restriction that it has to be at a sane price, exact threshold to be decided in court) for 10 years (or maybe less) the work enters the public domain. Anyone who cares can easily keep his copyright to the maximum duration but someone who doesn't will lose it. Might even make some copyrig

      • Proprietary information restricts freedom of expression. Its basically a patented way of thinking(which only corporations can afford to use).
        Yet, chinese copies could be called Smackey Mice with slightly altered looks and still sell. Its the people who want to use Mickey Mouse in their works who are affected.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:34PM (#26322923)

        In 500 years, assuming two descendant per generation
        and 4 generation per century we get 2^20 descendants: approximately a million.

        How are you going to divide this intellectual property among the family members ? And in 800 years, we get 2^32: 4 billions. Meaning mostly everyone in America will be your descendant (unless your line dies fairly early leaving you with no descendants). Does it make sense passing intellectual property that far ?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:35PM (#26322933)

        Characters going into the public domain is repayment to society for society enforcing your exclusive rights over the characters for a number of years. If you don't like them going into public domain, tough luck - without them eventually going public domain there's no good reason for society to enforce copyright.

        The alternative, I think, is paying property tax on your copyrights just for holding them.

        The idea is to encourage you to make new things, after all, not to keep making money off the same old idea. Of course that doesn't really work with modern copyright terms...

        • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @07:11PM (#26323767) Homepage

          I think rms put it best:

          Control over the use of one's ideas really constitutes control over other people's lives; and it is usually used to make their lives more difficult.

          I wouldn't even say that characters entering the public domain is 'repayment' for anything. Rather, the exclusive right for a limited number of years is a special boon, and freedom for everyone to use the idea is the default state in the absence of special laws creating a new kind of property.

        • "Characters going into the public domain is repayment to society for society enforcing your exclusive rights over the characters for a number of years. If you don't like them going into public domain, tough luck - without them eventually going public domain there's no good reason for society to enforce copyright."

          Aww, you're cute, you actually believe this stuff will be accepted by the major companies... Can you honestly believe that in 2023 or thereabouts the management of Disney are going to say "yup, it'

      • by zwei2stein (782480) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:38PM (#26322963) Homepage

        Its this simple: Why should anyone make money from one idea over again for rest of ther life?

        Socienty does not benefit by encouraging certain people to parasite on it for rest of their life for less than days job. Society benefits from those people continuing to create.

        If you, an artist and want to make money, keep producing art. That simple. Works for every other job, you are not superhuman deserving different treatment.

        If someone can succesfully make cheapie knockoffs without your cooperation, then they deserve money and you don't, because you had opportunity to be first, to be brand, to abuse new fad before it becomes old fad, to be The guy to come to when they want to make knockoffs and just missed it or werent good enough.

        Socienty does not need institutionalized freeloaders.

        • by Korin43 (881732) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @06:14PM (#26323245) Homepage
          This isn't even someone profiting from it for their entire life. It's about someone profiting from it 95 years after they die.
        • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:22PM (#26324391) Homepage

          If you, an artist and want to make money, keep producing art. That simple. Works for every other job, you are not superhuman deserving different treatment.

          A typical artist will have to try many times before making a profit on something. The recompense for the successful idea pays for the ones that don't pay off. Making art isn't like standing on an assembly line making widgets. It's easy to value the labor per widget, i.e., (hourly wage + other labor costs) / (widgets per hour). But how do you value the years of failure and practice it takes to get a piece of art that succeeds? While 90 years may be a bit on the long side to be able reap some benefit from a work, why should artists essentially get nothing: a pittance for what sells, and nothing for the all the work that didn't, but was crucial in making the piece that works possible? Such a system totally discourages arts.

          I have my own business and my rates can seem high to people who don't understand that I don't earn X dollars/hour. That rate must pay staff salaries, rent, taxes, equipment, supplies, more taxes, services and utilities, and a few extra fees and taxes. I make decent money but it's really depressing to look at how little I keep of every dollar that comes in the door. Artists face similar self-employment hurdles -- the works that pay need to cover the works that don't, plus the time necessary to fail enough to succeed again. In art, failure is a huge amount of the overhead.

          I would have liked to have been an artist, but I wasn't brave enough. I chose a permanent day job, and to dabble in my spare time. To be an artist, you have to work your tail off to get started, then you have to work like mad to make even a basic living, and then you have to have worry about how everyone seems to feel entitled to your work for a pittance or nothing. It takes a lot of guts to go that route and I didn't have them. Although the art I would have chosen is a physical sort, I do have a lot of empathy for people who make things that can be trivially copied these days. It must seem so pointless to spend so many years eating ramen and working hard to come up with a good idea, just to fulfill the sense of entitlement of the P2P community.

          • by Jason Levine (196982) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:36PM (#26325755)

            Fine. Let's suppose you create a work today (book, song, whatever) that winds up being pretty successful. Thanks to copyright, you are motivated to create more works (maybe based off of the successful work, maybe not). Copyright law grants you copyright ownership over the idea for 70 years after your death, however. Assuming you happen to be 30 years old (since I don't know your real age) and that you will die at the respectable age of 80, this means that the copyright will expire in the year 2129. Assuming that every 30 years, a new generation comes into the world, this means that the copyright on your work will expire when your great-great-great-grandkids are born. Exactly how is copyright supposed to motive you to create new works when you're dead, your kids are dead, and your grandkids are likely dead also?

            I definitely support copyright protections, but would like to see them significantly scaled back in length. I'd like to see them reverted back to what they were in the time of the Founders: 14 years initially with an optional one-time 14 year extension. I would probably support a 20+20 rule, but not much beyond that. There could be a phase in period for existing works starting with the oldest works and working forward. It would give artists plenty of time to make money off of the idea. Using the previous example, your work created today (when you are 30) would go into the public domain in the year 2037 when you are 58.

            This would also solve the problem of abandoned works: They would either not be renewed after the first term or would naturally expire after the renewal term.

            • by anagama (611277)

              I think we tend to agree. 90 years post death is pretty darn long. The only modification I'd like to see with the 14+14 (or 20+20) suggestion of yours is that it be X+X years, or the life of the creator, whichever is longer, while copyright is held by an actual person. For non-human entities, it would simply be X+X. Like you, I think 40 years is adequate to recoup expenses on the work. It certainly would be for me, as I just turned 40.

      • Re:Yes, worry! (Score:5, Informative)

        by symbolic (11752) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:38PM (#26322965)

        We're not talking about "the artist" here, we're talking about a huge media conglomerate. Here's the irony with current copyright law: back when the 17-year copyright was first enacted, the means of production and distribution were far more limited than they are today. Because corporations have much easier access to potential customers, they can make far more money, far faster than they ever could in the past. And yet, there's this insane belief that the copyright needed to be extended. If anything, it should have been shortened to take into account the benefits brought by advances in technology. I dare say those who initiated the idea of copyright ever envisioned multi-billion-dollar corporations creating a stranglehold on the sale and distribution of works that define our culture.

      • by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:59PM (#26323141) Homepage

        Why does the public have rights over and above the creator?

        The creator enjoys the protection of the law that *stops* other people making copies of that character. You're already operating from the assumption that an artist has the inherent moral right to stop anyone making copies of his or her work.

        Let me make clear that I'm not one of Slashdot's kneejerk anti-IPers. I strongly believe that the time and effort put into creating intellectual (as opposed to physical) works should have the same *opportunity* to be rewarded as physical work or service. Nor do I agree that no-one ever loses out from "piracy". So copyright is (ideally) the protection of *potential* income from intellectual works.

        Still, the assumption that the creator should enjoy the protection of the state forever and ever on their works is one some people could reasonably disagree with.

        I understand if there is no remaining family but why shouldn't the rights pass to the surviving family much as physical property does?

        Regardless of whether some people call it intellectual property, the fact remains that it isn't the same as physical property.

        Our culture is built upon the works of previous cultures and their intellectual works. To impose copyright and similar intellectual protection for generations would ultimately have the effect of tying up our current and future popular culture and make it impossible to build upon it in the same way that previous generations have.

        Can you imagine how hard it would have been for the creators of Popeye if they hadn't been able to use *any* previous elements, even getting down to the basic structure of the story and the setup? (e.g. Two guys fighting over one girl; sorry, the Greeks have a copyright on that from 2000 years ago, etc.) And yes, IIRC, some people *were* wanting to copyright things down to that sort of level on modern creations.

        You probably know (or ought to know) that many of Disney's classic works are based on public domain material and characters that they never paid a cent for. The company is one of the arch-hypocrites when it comes to intellectual property.

        My family home can still be in the family in 500 years but my work will belong to anyone that wants to reproduce it for a quick buck.

        Your original artwork will still be in the family in 500 years, if they haven't sold it off. You just won't have the right to stop other people making copies of it.

        And while you can hold on to the house, you can't hold on to it *and* have the benefit of selling it. Sure, you can rent it out and stuff, so the edges are blurred; but as I said, physical and intellectual property aren't the same thing and can't always be compared. With IP, you can sell copies of it *and* retain the original rights.

        I often wonder about releasing some work to the public because in the end the only true way in our society to control your work is to not publish it ever.

        That's your choice.

        I no longer have the financial need so why not just keep my work for family and friends?

        Ditto. Though I'd burn it before you die, as if it's really as important as you seem to think, some descendant will probably release it anyway- likely before the copyright expires in order to make money as well.

        It may seem straight forward to non artists but it's an upsetting subject for many artists.

        No-one ever said life was perfect. I agree that it's sometimes unpleasant that some creatively bankrupt advertising f*****t can cheapen a piece of out-of-copyright classical music by using it for some lousy product, but that's an unfortunate side effect of something that is desirable on the whole.

        Upsetting? Perhaps, but they have to decide whether the trade-off of releasing their work is worth it; they already enjoy the better part of a lifetime's protection in many cases, and that's a lo

        • by Atario (673917)

          I agree that it's sometimes unpleasant that some creatively bankrupt advertising f*****t can cheapen a piece of out-of-copyright classical music by using it for some lousy product, but that's an unfortunate side effect of something that is desirable on the whole.

          True. On the other hand, we'd also be missing things like Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale, among others [wikipedia.org].

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            I agree that it's sometimes unpleasant that some creatively bankrupt advertising f*****t can cheapen a piece of out-of-copyright classical music by using it for some lousy product, but that's an unfortunate side effect of something that is desirable on the whole.

            True. On the other hand, we'd also be missing things like Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale, among others.

            Which proves the point I was making(!) :)

            FWIW, I actually prefer the melody of A Whiter Shade of Pale to the Bach "original" that they incorrectly (or intentionally) didn't quite copy.

        • Can you imagine how hard it would have been for the creators of Popeye if they hadn't been able to use *any* previous elements, even getting down to the basic structure of the story and the setup? (e.g. Two guys fighting over one girl; sorry, the Greeks have a copyright on that from 2000 years ago, etc.) And yes, IIRC, some people *were* wanting to copyright things down to that sort of level on modern creations.

          Not to mention how difficult it would be to track down the IP owners to get the proper permission

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        Just curious why it is critically important for the characters to be in public domain? People will still make money off them if they are in public domain but the parent company will likely loose business and have to lay off people. Why? Why does the public have rights over and above the creator? I ask this as an artist that has copyrighted characters. I'd rather have my grandchildren benefit from my creations than some guy that has a sweat shop in China cranking off cheapie knock offs. How is society better off from artists loosing rights to their work?

        It's interesting that you characterize the beneficiaries of limited copyright being sweat shop. Meanwhile, you've already breezed by one of the most well-known beneficiaries of the public domain: Disney.

        Disney's portfolio is littered with stories from the Public Domain (starting with Snow White). Many of those stories are some of the best examples of classic Disney work.

        Another interesting aspect of copyright is religion. Religion is one of the fundamental aspects of society. Religious texts are publish

      • Why is it so critical that generations worth of people, who did nothing to create the work get money out of it while tax payer money is spent protecting your work?

        People were not born with the right to copyright. The government gave it to you with the understanding that it becomes becomes public domain after a certain period.

        If copyright was indefinite eventually it would be so hard to create something without someone claiming you're infringing on their copyright so it has to end no matter how greedy
        • by penix1 (722987)

          Why is it so critical that generations worth of people, who did nothing to create the work get money out of it while tax payer money is spent protecting your work?

          Not that I agree with it but the idea stems from real property inheritance. That's what you get when you refer to copyright as "Intellectual Property". The only problem with the idea is it isn't real people that wind up holding the copyright. It is a corporation that owns it in exchange for being published and promoted.

      • by Omestes (471991)

        Why does the public have rights over and above the creator?

        The creator is dead, long dead, and hence receives absolutely no benefit from Mickey Mouse's copyright.

        The point of government is to find the balance between individual good, and public good, and enforce it. Things being public domain enhance the public, while control over creations benefit the individual, the original goal of copyright was to balance these, limiting the creators rights to continue to give incentive for creation (to the benefit of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ian Alexander (997430)

        I'd rather have my grandchildren benefit from my creations than some guy that has a sweat shop in China cranking off cheapie knock offs.

        Wouldn't everyone, yet nobody expects the grandchildren of, say, realtors or carpenters to receive any more benefit from their grandparents' work than an inheritance after they're gone.

      • Copyright is not intended to "protect" works that are deemed "personal".
        Copyright is not intended to combat privacy.

        Of course, if somebody distributed private photos of me you can bet that I'd be going after them with copyright suits but it isn't how it's supposed to work.

        As for a larger picture of how society would benefit with artists losing their rights, the issue is not the cost to the artist, but the relative cost to the society. If copyrights were shortened, would most artists continue producing works

      • They are in the public domain naturally, it takes force of law and the establishment of an artificial monopoly to keep them out of it. Society has better things to do.

  • by Lumenary7204 (706407) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:51PM (#26322565)
    "I move freely 'bout Greenwich 'cause my Copyright's finiched... I'm Popeye the Sailor Man [Whoot-Whoot!]"
  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:51PM (#26322567) Journal

    Since the name is still under copyright, I propose that we have a new comic "Poopie the sailor person". He could go around eating brussel sprouts. His girlfriend's name would be Canola Oil and his arch enemy Brittas would be a thug that went around killing copyright holders and waiting until the copyright expired.

    Will Poopie save the day? Tune in same bat time, same bat channel. Same bat shit.

    • by apathy maybe (922212) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:59PM (#26322645) Homepage Journal

      Except that I very much doubt that the name is copyrighted, or else everyone should be getting into trouble when they write it down. Wikipedia wouldn't be able to have an article about Popeye [wikipedia.org] etc. etc.

      Now the name might be a trademark, which is something which doesn't expire (unless not defended, or unless it becomes generic).

      Dear folks, please don't use the term "intellectual property" at all. Trademarks are quite different to copyrights, which are very different to patents. They are all covered under different laws, and of those three, I believe that only copyright is international.

      (Oh, and a great example of long copyright encouraging dead artists to keep producing yes?)

      • by dwye (1127395)

        > (Oh, and a great example of long copyright encouraging dead artists to keep producing yes?)

        Long copyrights encourage OTHER artists, not the dead ones, just as any copyright, and especially long a one, encourages one-hit wonders like J.D.Salinger or Margaret Mitchell. Whether it encourages enough to warrant the loss to the public in the medium term (period between the end of the copyright under frex 1890 statutes and under today's) is another question.

        Don't make easily knocked over strawman arguments l

        • by apathy maybe (922212) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @06:02PM (#26323157) Homepage Journal

          I fail to see how having copyright extend 75 years past the death of the artist encourages said artist to produce anything either before or after they die.

          I am alive today, right now, and can not imagine the world 75 years after I die. Why should such a distant future (at least 75 years into the future, and hopefully many more), affect my decision making process now regarding creating new art work?

          Surely I should be creating art work now to benefit myself right now? (Or more likely for most of the good artists, they would be producing stuff anyway.)

          Having a long copyright does nothing to benefit artists, but only parasites and other scum.

          Some websites with arguments against copyright
          http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=52 [digitalproductions.co.uk]
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-copyright [wikipedia.org]

          • Or to put in in a more strictly financial way: the change increase in the NPV [moneyterms.co.uk] of the income generated by a copyright by extending copyright beyond about 20 or 30 years from the date a work is finished, is very small. The increase in changes such as increasing copyright from life + 50 to life + 70 is negligible.

      • Kdawson apparently doesn't understand basic legal terms (or perhaps just suffers from a kind of dyslexia). The notion of copyrighting a name is utterly absurd. To set it straight:

        The copyright - the appearance and basic character traits off the Thimble Theater cast - has expired in the EU.

        The trademark - the name and the distinctive likeness of the characters, as used in marketing - presumably has not.

        The effect of this is that in the EU, you can create your own Popeye and Olive Oyl stories, and use
        • IANAL, but my understanding of copyright v trademark is that you could republish original images without paying royalty, but creating any new ones would infringe King's trademark. Still, the summary is as badly confused as any I've seen in a long while.
          • by Capsaicin (412918) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:25PM (#26324409)

            IANAL, but my understanding of copyright v trademark is ...

            ... wrong.

            Copyright is a right (held against everyone else in the universe) inter alia to copy a work (eg. an artistic work) and to create derrivative works. Copyright (in almost every juridisdicition around the world) arises automatically on the creation (technically when a work is first rendered in material form) of a work capable of being the subject of copyright (i.e. not a single word). In a few jurisdictions registration of the right is required before any legal action for infringement may commence. Copyright subsists for a limited (but historically growing) term. Subject to limited fair use exceptions, you may not make a copy of a work subject to copyright for any purposes.

            Trademark is the use of a word (or words), image colour, scent etc.. in trade. It requires registration and subsists as long as registrations in maintained. Use other than trade use is not restricted (well that's not 100% true, you can't use it say to defame a company). You can use the name 'Coca Cola,' for example, as much as you like (look I just wrote the trademark 'Coca Cola') providing you are not doing so to sell anything. You can tattoo it on your forehead if your want, but beware any logo may additionally be subject to copyright.

            • In other words, I'm technically wrong, but practically right?
              • by tverbeek (457094)
                No. Not even close.
                Before trying to figure out what copyright and trademark law allow you to do, go learn what the two things are. Your attempt to summarize them demonstrates that you don't understand that yet, and without that you'll never get how they each work.
              • by Capsaicin (412918)

                In other words, I'm technically wrong, but practically right?

                Nope, you are simply off base.

                The question of "republish[ing] original images" vs "creating any new ones" is not related to any trademark which may or may not subsist in "Kings trademark." It's a question of copyright law, not traffic law, not anti-trust law, not trademark law, but copyright law.

                The trademark issue arises were you use that mark to trade any goods listed in the category for which the mark is registered (or generally if the mark

      • by pbhj (607776)

        I believe that only copyright is international.

        There's an international Patent Cooperation Treaty to which 139 countries are signatories. One learns something new everyday!

        http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/treaty/about.htm [wipo.int]
        http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?lang=en&treaty_id=6 [wipo.int]

        • There's an international Patent Cooperation Treaty

          From the first page you linked: "to reflect on the desirability of seeking protection in foreign countries, to appoint local patent agents in each foreign country, to prepare the necessary translations and to pay the national fees". This tells the big difference between how copyright law is international and how patent law is international. All the PCT does is harmonize the form of a patent app, establish a priority date and let member states share resources on a prior art search. An inventor still has to s

      • (Oh, and a great example of long copyright encouraging dead artists to keep producing yes?)

        Everyone knows that dead artists don't produce new works for money. They produce new works for BRAAAAIIIINNNNSSS!!!!!

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:55PM (#26322605) Journal
    Does this mean that US customs agents will now be searching kids' luggage more diligently, in order to prevent the illegal importation by kids of comic books that they legally bought in Europe?

    Think of the kids! Just think of the harm those books could do in the US, probably they are supporting terrorism! </tongue in cheek>
  • by vandelais (164490) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @04:55PM (#26322607)

    I will gladly pay you Tuesday for your copyright today.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the copyright on the image of the character Popeye expired in the EU as the year began, 70 years since the death of its creator Elzie Segar. The US will have to wait until 2024, 95 years after Segar's death. Only Popeye's image is free of trademark in the EU; the name "Popeye" is still under copyright by King Features Syndicate.

    Someone close enough to him to see the incomprehension in his eyes and the drool from his lips, PLEASE explain to kdawson the difference between copyright and trademark. It's appalling that he would write such crap as appears here.

    Does anyone other than kdawson think that the name "Popeye" is copyrighted? Or that the copyright on the image running out means that the trademark is affected? This is crap. It's awful.

    I guess I should be thankful he didn't bring patents into it.

    • by pbhj (607776)

      Perhaps the article wasn't controversial enough and he wanted to garner a few more ad impressions knowing that this would rile some of us.

      Um, 3) Profit.

    • by gilgongo (57446)

      Does anyone other than kdawson think that the name "Popeye" is copyrighted?

      Huh?

      Or that the copyright on the image running out means that the trademark is affected?

      From TFA:

      "The Popeye trademark, a separate entity to Segar's authorial copyright, is owned by King Features, a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation â" the US entertainment giant â" which is expected to protect its brand aggressively. "

      When the copyright runs out, the trade mark is most certainly affected. This is because the two things are separate, and one is now in a lawyer-free zone. Things might get interesting.

      • by gilgongo (57446)

        Oh I see, you're on about the name vs image thing (sorry I didn't notice). Yawn. Yes - yes. It's probably just a typo. Keep your pants on.

        Of much more interest is my point about the effect of having a mark hitherto protected by copyright now having to fend for itself in a world where many will start to regard the image of Popeye as something they have a right to use as they wish.

        Consider this: I produce a range of toys featuring Robin Hood, a swash-buckling hero who robs from the rich and gives to the poor.

        • image of Popeye as something they have a right to use as they wish.

          No, they don't have that right - it's trademarked, and still being licensed. You can reprint the original stories without paying them a royalty.

        • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

          As King Features holds the trademark on Popeye(tm), a lovable, pipe-smoking, spinach-eating sailor, I would have to be on King Feature's side.

  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:13PM (#26322759) Homepage

    ... by inventing new characters.

    Seems to me that it doesn't advance the sciences or arts by relying on copyrights that have been around longer than anybody who works at King.

  • by SLi (132609) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @05:31PM (#26322905)

    Argh, can't you get your facts straight even in the summary?

    A name cannot be copyrighted. It's a trademark. It doesn't expire after a number of years, like a copyright. A copyright is not a trademark, and a trademark is not a patent. Neither is copyright a patent.

    Copyright protects certain expression (or a picture). A trademark protects the name it's sold under. A patent protects the idea of a technical solution to some problem.

    And now that I'm ranting, there's no such thing as "copywritten" which is seen often. A copywriter does something entirely unrelated to copyright.

    A trademark has to be actively protected to prevent the trademark from becoming common language (like using "googling" to mean searching the web or "xeroxing" to mean copying). Neither a copyright or a patent becomes invalid by failure to enforce.

    Patenting is always an active act, i.e. you don't get a patent for something just by inventing it. And it's expensive in general. Copyright comes automatically, so there cannot be such a thing as "failure to copyright" (nowadays anyway, it was different decades ago). A trademark can either be registered (which is inexpensive) or obtained by becoming well established (registering it is a safe bet).

    • by jgerry (14280) *

      Thank you! Why can't people ever get this straight? Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are all different entities. It's not that hard to learn the difference.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      A name cannot be copyrighted. It's a trademark. It doesn't expire after a number of years, like a copyright. A copyright is not a trademark, and a trademark is not a patent. Neither is copyright a patent.

      Confusion between the three is pretty common. But you'd think a Slashdot editor, of all people would have heard these arguments before, and gotten their terms straight.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      TFA actually makes it pretty clear. The copyright on the earliest images of Popeye has expired. That means you are free to make derivative works of those images -- in other words, draw Popeye yourself -- and you won't have to pay royalties to the copyright owner of the original image (because there is none). However, from TFA:

      The Popeye trademark, a separate entity to Segar's authorial copyright, is owned by King Features, a subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation -- the US entertainment giant -- which is expected to protect its brand aggressively.

      ...and so on those grounds, you won't get away with it. The Popeye trademark is doubtless registered for everything from coffee cups to T-shirts to books and any other junk you can thi

  • In the US, a name, title, short phrase, or short expression, such as "Popeye," can't be copyrighted, as it is not considered an "original work of authorship." See US Copyright Circular 34.

    Images, on the other hand, can be copyrighted, and it is a copyright in an image of Popeye that has entered the PD in the EU.

    The mark "POPEYE," however, is still the subject of numerous trademark registrations in the US (and probably in the EU as well). Generally speaking, trademarks can persist for as long as they are use

  • How in the hell does Popeye still pull in $2.9 BILLION dollars a year? That's amazing. I never would have thought they'd rake in that much still. Can you imagine how much they must have been losing to piracy?

    Who is still such a big popeye fan after all these years? What are Popeye's key demographics?

  • corrections (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashmonkey24 (1444933) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @06:43PM (#26323483)
    Following copyright legislation the Popeye image has been copyright free in Canada for 20 years now, as copyrights here in Canada only extend for 50 years after the death of the creator. Also regarding the story the submitter got it wrong as the image would have been free of copyright, not trademark.. as artwork falls under copyright legislation. Likewise, the name would be under trademark and not copyright.
  • Would somebody pease provide a cogent argument as to why an "artist's" intellectually property is protected by copyright for 95 years AFTER their death while an "engineer's" intellectual property is only worthy of being protected for 20 years after filing?? What makes "Art" worthy of five times the length of protection?

    I'll give you a quick answer: because modern civilations celebrate sports, celebrities and artists vastly more than they do engineering, science or math. we foolishly exalt those who makes

    • by ckedge (192996)

      I bet you it's got something to do with engineers and the companies that employing them realizing that EVERYTHING they do is built on the shoulders of the knowledge of everyone who came before them. If you didn't allow them to use old ideas in new products, there would be no new products.

      People who create Intellectual Property are not as reliant on what came before them.

      IBM and US Steel will never go squealing to congress demanding that patent terms be made (literally) five times longer. Can you imagine h

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Ludwig (86077)
      Actually, I'd say it's because the products of engineering and science are considered more valuable to society. Nobody's too gravely affected by being prevented from selling their own non-Disney Mickey Mouse products, but companies being able to keep inventions under patent protection for a century would seriously impede the progress of technology, which arguably relies on building on prior developments far more than Art does. It's easier to make a wholly original painting than it is to build a machine us
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:19PM (#26324769)
    the name "Popeye" is still under copyright by King Features Syndicate.

    No, it is not, and never was. You CANNOT COPYRIGHT A NAME.

    U.S. Copyright Office - What Does Copyright Protect? (FAQ) [copyright.gov]

    Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law.

    Copyright /= Patent /= Trademark.

  • As Popeye said on the Island of Goons after disguising himself with a wig:
    "Hair today, goon tomorrow."

  • Blow me down!

    That's all I can stands and I can't stands no more!

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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