Cultural objects/goods: When a superhero is too famous for his own good

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 06/17/2013 - 00:43

I found the following news item; if you can read Spanish, you will most probably prefer the original version in the Proceso magazine's site. The subject? The federal police (PGR) and army arrest 17 artisans for «making money out of» Spiderman.

The following translation is mine. Done past midnight, and being quite tired, and translated so this news item can reach a broader audience. All errors are mine (except those carried out by the security forces, that is).

June 13, 2013

Cuernavaca, Morelos. Policement from the General Republic Attorney (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and the Army entered and searched the "3 de mayo" neighbourhood, in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, detaining 17 ceramist artisans that sold candies, dolls and piñatas shaped like Spiderman.

This search was done on the evening of last Wednesday, around 16:00. Federal ministerial policement and army soldiers closed a street with several informal stores and detained workers taht were selling this Marvel Comics character, following said company's denounce.

As a result for this operation, 17 artisants were detained, although the same day five of them were freed. The policemen also seized 12 bags of candies, piñatas, ceramics and wooden figures of the superhero.

PGR closed down 11 stores where ceramics with this same figure was being sold, accusing the detainees of plagiarizing Spiderman's image, protected under the copyright law.

The 12 that remained under detention were put at the Federal Justice's disposal, which prompted that this Thursday, around 10AM, hundreds of sellers of "3 de mayo" went out to PGR's building to demand their friends' freedom, who are facing a bail of up to 200,000 pesos (~USD$18,000).

Outraged because –they said– they were treated as if they were part of a drug ring, hundreds of artisans closed intermitently Avenida Cuauhnáhuac, where the PGR representation in Morelos state is located.

The artisans' pressure helped for the amount of the bail to be lowered from MX$200,000 to MX$16,000, and so they were set free.

Francisco Fernández Flores, president of the Ceramists Association, criticized the operation because, he said, it was as strong as if they were "drug dealers".

The artisans explained that they don't even make the Spiderman figures, they are made by the interns of the Centro Estatal de Reinserción Social de Atlacholoaya (prision), located in the Xochitepec municipality, who offered them to the ceramists so they could be sold.

"The Atlacholoaya inmates do them, we buy them to support them, and turns out we are the delinquents now", said Miriam Monroy, sister of one of the detainees.

This information was contradicted by Jesús Valencia Valencia, responsible for Morelos' state prision system, who assured that in said prision no ceramics are done.

Fernández Flores insisted though that from within the prision they are being offered piñatas, candies and "piggy banks" with Spiderman's shape.

José Luis Pozo, vicepresident of the Ceramists Union, said that to avoid more such federal operations for copyright breaches, they have committed not to produce or commercialize Marvel superhero figures, and any other characters the authority demands.

"We do commit to, from now on, those products singled out to us will not be commercialized", he said.

Pozo said that the PGR operation caused losses not just to the detained producers and salesmen, but to over 200 ceramists that had to close their stores in solidarity with their friends.

Acording to the artisans, the products were a success until the PGR came, seized the products and detained the salesmen.

And yes, the copyright insanity does not stop. Spiderman is by today a clear part of popular culture. Marvel brilliantly succeeded in creating such a popular icon that everybody recognizes, that everybody identifies with — And that everybody should be able to recreate.

We are not talking about brand protection. Marvel does not, and will never, commercialize piñatas, ceramics or wooden toys. And even if they were plastic-cast — While Spiderman is still under the protection of copyright, as the Berne Convention defines it (and of course, as the much stricter Mexican laws agree), that does not mean that any and every product resembling a Spiderman should be protected. Many ceramists and piñata makers will create unique pieces of art — Ok, handicraft. But reading the copyright law more strictly, Spiderman is more treated as a trademark than as a copyright. And it is a trademark that should be declared as having passed on to the public domain.

( categories: )
kevix's picture

almost like...

http://www.timesofisrael.com/spider-man-batman-beat-kippa-man/
this story has the same idea, copyright/trademark police

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <br> <b> <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote> <img> <h1> <h2> <h3> <tt> <pre> <strike> <table> <tr> <th> <td>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Use <bib>citekey</bib> or [bib]citekey[/bib] to insert automatically numbered references.
  • Use [fn]...[/fn] (or <fn>...</fn>) to insert automatically numbered footnotes.
  • You can enable syntax highlighting of source code with the following tags: <code>, <blockcode>. The supported tag styles are: <foo>, [foo].

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Keep in mind that all comments will also have to be administrator-moderated. Don't waste your time writing a spam that no one will read.
g
L
u
B
U
M
Enter the code without spaces and pay attention to upper/lower case.