Can I have ads on the page of a web comic that features original content except for the fact that it uses characters not created by the author?

UPDATED: Aug 4, 2012

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Can I have ads on the page of a web comic that features original content except for the fact that it uses characters not created by the author?

I host a webcomic that features characters created by someone other than the comic author. I live in Sweden and the author lives in the US. The author draws everything himself and creates the storylines and the script, but the characters are previously established by a major company. However, he has modified them, even though it’s still quite obviously the same characters, and they have the same names. The company that created the characters is US based.

Asked on August 4, 2012 under Business Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What you are describing is copyright infringement. You say that the characters were created by a major company, and that while the author modifies them, they are "still quite obviously the same characters." Copyright includes the right to control whether others can create "adapted" or "derivative" works; since these are just slight modifications of existing characters, they would clearly be adapted or derivative works, and so publishing them without the rights holder's permission would be copyright infringement.

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