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Public Domain Superheroes?

michael posted about 12 years ago | from the stretch-dude-and-clobber-girl dept.

News 251

SerpicoWasTaken writes "Here is an interesting article about a group of comic book heroes from the golden age that are in the public domain. Apparently, a bunch of golden age heroes were never copyrighted and just faded into obscurity. The article also contains a long discussion of copyright and the public domain. It is an interesting read for all those interested in the public domain." Update: 09/25 17:51 GMT by M : Link removed at the request of the site maintainers because it's killing their server. Update: 09/25 19:02 GMT by M : They've put the document on a static page instead of a cgi script. :)

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slashdotted already?! (2, Troll)

byolinux (535260) | about 12 years ago | (#4326686)

That's gotta be a record!

Re:slashdotted already?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326720)

I think that's the fasted *I* have ever seen something get slashdotted. Perhaps the URL is not right?

Re:slashdotted already?! (2, Troll)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | about 12 years ago | (#4326738)

You know you're in trouble when the first post is to saw you've been slashdotted...

Re:slashdotted already?! (2)

echucker (570962) | about 12 years ago | (#4326748)

UBB (especially the older versions), the bulletin board software that the post is on, is quite CPU intensive. We commonly experienced that same 500 error until after we upgraded both our server and the software itself. There is no way that their board would be able to handle the load unless it is a dedicated server, and even then, it'd be chancy.

Re:slashdotted already?! (1)

Khaed (544779) | about 12 years ago | (#4326763)

Who wants to bet the guy just saw his site on Slashdot and jerked the power cord out to keep from being melted?

It's official - the internet has gone down! (1, Offtopic)

BluBrick (1924) | about 12 years ago | (#4326817)

There has gotta be something seriously wrong with the whole internet when first post on slashdot complains about the site being slashdotted.

Re:It's official - the internet has gone down! (2, Funny)

Shadestalker (598690) | about 12 years ago | (#4326836)

The simplest explanation is that they must have disparaged Scientology in some way.

Re:It's official - the internet has gone down! (-1, Offtopic)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4326854)

Dude... Get with the programme... Slashdot is the Internet!

Re:It's official - the internet has gone down! (1)

MaxVlast (103795) | about 12 years ago | (#4326898)

I thought that was AOL...

Re:It's official - the internet has gone down! (5, Funny)

sootman (158191) | about 12 years ago | (#4326869)

ServerMan: *gasp* can't... hold... out... much... longer... ... slashdot... crowd... too... powerful!

This (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326688)

first post is public domain. Enjoy, GNU hippies.

Sweet! (1)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | about 12 years ago | (#4326700)

"Power over water" is now in the public domain. It's mine! Fools! Ph35r my 3133t 4rmy of fish! You will never mod my down again! You will be destroyed! Hahahahahaha!

Re:Sweet! (0, Offtopic)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4326829)

I already have the powers of Earth, Fire, Wind and Heart. Join me and we can form...

... CAPTAIN PLANET!!!

Captain Planet: "With your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!"
Annoying kids: "Go Planet!!!"

Down Already? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326705)

No-one's even had a chance to comment. Apparently, the massive weight of our impending presence has reverse causality (See top ten physic experiments).

Re:Down Already? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326721)

No-one's even had a chance to comment. Apparently, the massive weight of our impending presence has reversed causality (See top ten physic experiments).

reverse -> reversed

Re:Down Already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327132)

No-one's even had a chance to comment. Apparently, the massive weight of our impending presence has reversed causality (See top ten physics experiments).

physic -> physics

CowBoyNeal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326707)

I can't wait till CowBoyNeal fades into obscurity.

Re:CowBoyNeal (2)

CmdrTaco (1) | about 12 years ago | (#4326714)

Funny, I can't wait until CowBoyNeal becomes CowManNeal. When he achieves his true form, his power level will be so powerful you're gonna want his likeness in the public domain so you can write fanzines!

Your a fag, right? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326735)

Your a fag, right? [goatse.cx]

Fag.

Re:CowBoyNeal (3, Funny)

DarkHelmet (120004) | about 12 years ago | (#4326746)

So when CowBoyNeal becomes CowManNeal, will he have the power to make ALL the poll options have something to do with him?

Just a thought...

Re:CowBoyNeal (1)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4326766)

Will he be constipated like the Dragonball characters when they're powering-up? Does he get to wear underwear on his head? Will he be as cool as Farkman [farkman.com] ?

CMDRTACO, WHERE IS JON KATZ? DID HE DIE OF AIDS? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326808)

Re:CowBoyNeal (2)

Soko (17987) | about 12 years ago | (#4326830)

New poll:

CowManNeal's (DADATADADA!!!) Special Power will be:

( ) Able to eat an entire 16" pizza in a single bite
( ) Able to crack any DRM protection scheme with a Comodore64
( ) Ability to vapourise any small server on the internet with a single URL
( ) Control the minds of a band of geeks with a single Poll
( ) Finally make little CowBoyNeals, since he's now a man.. ;-)

Soko

Re:CowBoyNeal (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 12 years ago | (#4326947)

  1. Able to eat an entire 16" pizza in a single bite
  2. Able to crack any DRM protection scheme with a Comodore64
  3. Ability to vapourise any small server on the internet with a single URL
  4. Control the minds of a band of geeks with a single Poll
  5. Finally make little CowBoyNeals, since he's now a man.. ;-)
  1. so he'll have a smaller mouth ?
  2. well, when some can bypass sony CD protection with a marker, I call this one a regression !
  3. this is called slashdotting
  4. no, I even happened to vote for him.
  5. definitely this one, but why will all these kids be called "malda" ? Mrs Fent-Malda sure has a secret she would not share with User#1

Last Resort (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326710)

I guess we have to dibs these guys to settle any disputes now.

A True Public Domain Superhero!! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326713)

Need a superhero friend?

How about BONZI BUDDY [bonzi.com] ?

Sorry, a Linux version is still in the works, but if you're using Windows, you must get it!

-SexyKellyOsbourne

kill me (1)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4326804)

I've always wondered who would win in a fight between Bonzi Buddy and Barney the Dinosaur. I hope they disembowel each other.

"I love you. You love me..."

Aaaargh!!! They're coming after me!!! Nooooo!

Personally They both suck (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326907)

Barney is gay and warps kids minds. BonziBuddy is evil and gay and is designed for AOL users.. Which is worse? i have no idea... all I know is if either come within hammer-slinging distance they're gonna get a 35lb sledge to the head or other areas.... EVIL!

0 to Slashdot in under 5 minutes (2, Funny)

PackMan97 (244419) | about 12 years ago | (#4326725)

Dang...that doesn't take long :(

Get some PRIORITIES! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326728)

The worst terrorist attack in recorded history occurred over a year ago, followed by a Holy War against Islam, and now Israel and the Palestinians as well as India and Pakistan are teetering on the brink of their own war, Argentina is in the midst of a financial crisis, America is considering launching attacks against Somalia and Iraq, and you people have the gall to be discussing Public Domain Superheroes???? My *god*, people, GET SOME PRIORITIES!

The bodies of the thousands of innocent civilians who died (and will die) in these unprecedented events could give a good god damn about Public Domain Superheroes, your childish Lego models, your nerf toy guns and whining about the lack of a "fun" workplace, your Everquest/Diablo/D&D fixation, the latest Cowboy Bebop rerun, or any of the other ways you are "getting on with your life" (here's a hint: watching Cowboy Bebop in your jammies and eating a bowl of Shreddies is *not* "getting on with your life"). The souls of the victims are watching in horror as you people squander your finite, precious time on this earth playing video games!

You people disgust me!

Re:Get some PRIORITIES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326754)

(here's a hint: watching Cowboy Bebop in your jammies and eating a bowl of Shreddies is *not* "getting on with your life")

Here's a hint for you: There are web sites called cnn.com, bbc.co.uk, etc. There are also any number of web sites (particularly web logs) that do nothing BUT discuss these issues. They're just a click away.It's not like story is preventing you reading about or discussing those things if you so choose.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Re:Get some PRIORITIES! (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | about 12 years ago | (#4326780)

Well, you're certainly welcome to discuss the atrocities of the world with your other personalities. Slashdot, however, is a TECHNOLOGY news and discussion site, not NATO or the UN.

If you/the rest of your personalities don't like what's posted on /., I suggest reading something else.

Thousands of people dying? Guess what, that's been happening since before the age of recorded history. And if more people played video games maybe they'd find its a nice outlet for aggression. It certainly keeps me from beating the snot out of air-wasting morons such as yourself.

Moderators: Feel free to mod me however you want, I've got Karma to burn.

Re:Get some PRIORITIES! (1)

Khaed (544779) | about 12 years ago | (#4326789)

Didn't I see this idiot post, almost word for word, a few weeks ago? If not, you're a big moron who repeats the same thing often.

Re:Get some PRIORITIES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326815)

err, right. And you're here, why??

Maybe you don't realize that perhaps some of the
people here commenting on public domain super
heroes are taking a few minutes rest from some
of the following:
A)active military service
B)political protest movements
C)writing opensource code
D)working for a living
E)going to school
F)writing closedsource code
G)parenting

Seemingly inane activities often reduce stress
and increase productivity in other areas. I
would suggest you aren't productive and also
don't have much fun. Maybe you should take
a timeout in your room???

Re:Get some PRIORITIES! (1, Offtopic)

Phoenix (2762) | about 12 years ago | (#4327009)

You sir are in the most desperate need of some stress relief of anyone I've ever seen. Even AFTER 9-11-2001 the Mayor appeared on SNL and told people that it is ok to laugh and that laughter was needed to try to help lift the pall that fell over the people when the towers came down.

If people do nothing but dwell on the negative that happens in the world, then they are on the fast track to a prescription of anti-depressants at best and at worse a trip to the psyche ward with a 24/7 suicide watch.

We play with our Legos and our Nerf Guns to give us a break from the depressing stuff that happens in our lives. We read comics and play EQ to relax. We watch Anime because it's fun.

And contrary to your belief, having fun is not evil.

We are BOMBARDED constantly by CNN over some crisis. We are shown time and time again pictures of dead bodies from some natural disaster. We are shown videos of that woman beating that child senseless or that dog getting nerve gassed. With that CONSTANT and INCESSANT exposure to the violence in the world, the only thing keeping us from going insane and possibly psychotic is the fact that we have outlets where we can back off and embrace all that is pleasant, positive, and good in the world.

So if ANYONE should "get some priorities" it is you. You are on the fast track to an early death unless you cut loose and enjoy life instead of brooding on all the death doom and destruction.

To quote Good Morning Vietnam "He is in the most desperate need of a blowjob of any white man I know"

Parent is a troll, duh. (OT) (2)

No Such Agency (136681) | about 12 years ago | (#4327159)

So in essence, most of your lengthy reply is just a waste, and only encourages them. But you're probably right about him needing a blowjob. Though like most trolls it would likely be his first and only ;-)

Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and GET OVER IT (0, Offtopic)

HaloZero (610207) | about 12 years ago | (#4327029)

You're right. The attack more than a year ago was terrible. Thousands of people died. You are correct in that aspect. However. You must understand, the attack, as you mentioned, WAS MORE THAN ONE YEAR AGO. Some of us want to move on. I'll take this further. You're going on about all of these world events stories. Why? Wait. Why do you even know about them? CNN? MSNBC? BBC? That's my point, exactly. CNN, MSNBC, BBC. You've seen in there. Why reprint the same regurgitated crap here? Yeah. It's the world. Yeah. It sucks. Horribly. Matter of fact, it's the worst. Y'ever stop and actually LOOK at Slashdot's synopsis? It says "News for nerds, stuff that matters.". Now, I'm not implying that these world events don't matter, but we don't need to rehash the same thing over and over and over again. If you want to read about tragedy, and terror, and people being blown to bits, go to MSNBC, or CNN, or BBC, and read THERE. We aren't them. We are us. To that end, have you ever thought that some of us visit this site to try and escape from that worldly crap? I come here, because I know that I can find happy refuge among other geeks, and we can discuss techy things, and fun things, and not have to worry about Saddam Hussien, and al-Quieda, and the problems of the world. I personally find thinking about such events and scenarios frightening, disturbing, and to think that my world could disappear tomorrow because some fanatic in the middle east doesn't like my pants, or that I could give less than a flying fuck what God whoever believes in really, really worries me. With that in mind, why not hang out with people you can relate to, and enjoy the things you do in life? For me, that's Slashdot. Here's another point: I'm not sure if I am more disgusted with the fact that you've acted just as these terrorists would. Yes. You have. Don't look at me like that. Just listen. What are terroists? People with a cause? Yes. And what do they do? Inflict pain, and fear, and anger, in people they wish to make their point to. Ok, that's a given. What have you done? Mm-hmm. You waltzed right into our little happy party, and took a big shit in the punchbowl. Yes. You, sir, in your gross and selfish display of arrogance, have become a terrorist. Thank you for taking time out of your important life to remind me that there are people out in the world who wouldn't give another thought to turning me, and everyone I know, into piles of radioactive dust from thousands of miles away. That's incredibly comforting. I digress; the other issue which sickens me is that you could attack us, at all. Are we hurting anyone doing what we are doing? Discussing science, technology, humor, entertainment, culture, and so on? Are we killing people? Are we the ones out there with superweapons threatening to commit mass genocide? NO! You want someone to be disgusted with? Someone to attack? Why not take out your anger and aggression on some of those assholes you mentioned? Yeah. All those terror networks and shit. Ever stop and consider that? Don't come down here and drop your crap on us, simply because you feel we are wrong for not dwelling on the past, or living in fear. I, myself, plan on enjoying every second I can get from life, with the things I enjoy doing, with my family, and my girlfriend, and if the time comes, I will defend myself, my home and the people I've mentioned, and my country. Until then, I plan on being myself. Take you, yourself, your bullshit, and go elsewhere, please. You are not welcome here. Thanks. </RANT

Cry me a river, build me a bridge, and GET OVER IT (0, Offtopic)

HaloZero (610207) | about 12 years ago | (#4327103)

You're right. The attack more than a year ago was terrible. Thousands of people died. You are correct in that aspect. However. You must understand, the attack, as you mentioned, WAS MORE THAN ONE YEAR AGO. And some of us want to move on.

I'll take this further. You're going on about all of these world events stories. Why? Wait. Why do you even know about them? CNN? MSNBC? BBC? That's my point, exactly. CNN, MSNBC, BBC. You've seen in there. Why reprint the same regurgitated crap here? Yeah. It's the world. Yeah. It sucks. Horribly. Matter of fact, it's the worst. Y'ever stop and actually LOOK at Slashdot's synopsis? It says "News for nerds, stuff that matters.". Now, I'm not implying that these world events don't matter, but we don't need to rehash the same thing over and over and over again.

If you want to read about tragedy, and terror, and people being blown to bits, go to MSNBC, or CNN, or BBC, and read THERE. We aren't them. We are us. To that end, have you ever thought that some of us visit this site to try and escape from that worldly crap? I come here, because I know that I can find happy refuge among other geeks, and we can discuss techy things, and fun things, and not have to worry about Saddam Hussien, and al-Quieda, and the problems of the world.

I personally find thinking about such events and scenarios frightening, disturbing, and to think that my world could disappear tomorrow because some fanatic in the middle east doesn't like my pants, or that I could give less than a flying fuck what God whoever believes in, really, really worries me. With that in mind, why not hang out with people you can relate to, and enjoy the things you do in life? For me, that's Slashdot.

Here's another point: I'm not sure if I am more disgusted with the fact that you've acted just as these terrorists would. Yes. You have. Don't look at me like that. Just listen. What are terroists? People with a cause? Yes. And what do they do? Inflict pain, and fear, and anger, in people they wish to make their point to. Ok, that's a given. What have you done? Mm-hmm. You waltzed right into our little happy party, and took a big shit in the punchbowl. Yes. You, sir, in your gross and selfish display of arrogance, have become a terrorist. Thank you for taking time out of your important life to remind me that there are people out in the world who wouldn't give another thought to turning me, and everyone I know, into piles of radioactive dust from thousands of miles away. That's incredibly comforting. I digress; the other issue which sickens me is that you could attack us, at all. Are we hurting anyone doing what we are doing? Discussing science, technology, humor, entertainment, culture, and so on? Are we killing people? Are we the ones out there with superweapons threatening to commit mass genocide? NO! You want someone to be disgusted with? Someone to attack? Why not take out your anger and aggression on some of those assholes you mentioned? Yeah. All those terror networks and shit. Ever stop and consider that?

Don't come down here and drop your crap on us, simply because you feel we are wrong for not dwelling on the past, or living in fear. I, myself, plan on enjoying every second I can get from life, with the things I enjoy doing, with my family, and my girlfriend, and if the time comes, I will defend myself, my home and the people I've mentioned, and my country. Until then, I plan on being myself. Take you, yourself, your bullshit, and go elsewhere, please. You are not welcome here. Thanks. [/RANT]

Note to moderators: I do sincerely apologize for cross-posting. In my fit of rage, I posted in HTML-formatted mode, and had no line breaks. That... is not me. I'm sorry, but I had to post an edited version. I thank you for the work you do for this site, and, to that end, again apologize for this.

GoogleNews (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326729)

Try this! [google.com]

Where is Slashboy? (1)

jhawkins (609878) | about 12 years ago | (#4326732)

Able to stop servers in 5 comments!

Arseman (0, Troll)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4326740)

I don't see a (c) on the Arseman [goatse.cx] . Does that mean we all own a bit of his arse?

Re:Arseman (1)

The Original Yama (454111) | about 12 years ago | (#4327126)

How is this a troll? The Goatse Man (I won't link to it this time) is a true superhero, using his rectal powers to fight for truth, justice and the Anal way. I think he's public domain, too (I don't see any copyrights on the site).

Great--Now the "Unlikely Heroes" Return... (5, Funny)

Spencerian (465343) | about 12 years ago | (#4326743)

Maybe there's a good reason for these to remain obscure.

"Look...in the sky! It's ChickenMan!"

"Guess that villain's leaving him a bit henpecked."

"He flies so smoothly...it's poultry in motion!"

Re:Great--Now the "Unlikely Heroes" Return... (2)

Yohahn (8680) | about 12 years ago | (#4326971)

You have obviously never heard the chickenman records. The were hillarious.

It's hard to convey here, They were great.

"'mommy, why won't chicken man lay an egg'...
'well go on then, lay an egg for her'"

"Mrs Helfinger, could you look in the file labeled super chicken cave for the item super chicken cave lightswitch?"

Re:Great--Now the "Unlikely Heroes" Return... (2)

Yohahn (8680) | about 12 years ago | (#4327020)

Ah found one.. here's a URL/link:
[reelradio.com]
http://www.reelradio.com/wc/index.html#chicken

Pyroman (1)

Zayin (91850) | about 12 years ago | (#4326758)

The characters who appeared in Tom Strong #11 and #12, including Pyroman, Miss Masque, The American Crusader, The Black Terror, the Fighting Yank, and Doc Strange (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Strong himself). In the story, "Terror on Terra Obscura," Strong teamed up with Strange to rescue the heroes, who had been imprisoned by an alien of impossible power.



In the next story, Pyroman teams up with michael to fight the evil webserver hosting the newsarama bulletin board...

yes but are they open source? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326777)

linux superheroes.... although everytime I try compiling superman.c I get errors in krypton.h

Re:yes but are they open source? (1)

mwjlewis (602559) | about 12 years ago | (#4326970)

Wouldn't it be the other way around?

linux superheroes.... although everytime I try compiling krypton.h I get errors in superman.c

"Never copyrighted"? (4, Informative)

nuggz (69912) | about 12 years ago | (#4326783)

Apparently, a bunch of golden age heroes were never copyrighted

I thought copyright was automatic. It doesn't need to be registered or anything, it just is.

To become public domain, the copyright must either expire, or be explicitly declared so by the copyright holder.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (2)

Enry (630) | about 12 years ago | (#4326796)

True, but it's a lot harder to prove copyright infringment if you never applied for it.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (3, Informative)

sql*kitten (1359) | about 12 years ago | (#4326840)

True, but it's a lot harder to prove copyright infringment if you never applied for it.

Copyright is created literally by appending (c) $YEAR $AUTHOR to it. There's no central registry of things that are copyrighted - you're thinking of trademarks (TM).

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326908)

Actually, you CAN register things officially. Greyday.org links to it somewhere, I think.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (3, Informative)

mkoenecke (249261) | about 12 years ago | (#4326957)

IAAL, and thought I'd point out that "(c)" doesn't do squat. Really. You must either use the copyright symbol ("©"), and/or spell out the word "Copyright."

For what it's worth, I thought "(c)" would work, too, until being informed otherwise by a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327135)

an author always has the copyright, whether you put the little logo there or just the (c) or nothing at all. (unless its work for hire, then it might be an employer or company owning the rights, but thats the only thing that changes.)

how can you graft a neat little (c) on a music performance exactly?

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327123)

Actually, everything you create is automatically copyrighted by default, whether you indicate so or not. Indicating so is recommended, though, for obvious reasons. To take it a step further, there is a central registry (see www.copyright.gov, if in the US).

-- Posting anonymously because I'm using somebody else's computer and don't remember my damn password!

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (1)

jarrell (545407) | about 12 years ago | (#4327133)

Um, that's what all that paperwork is for that goes to the library of congress. To centrally register your copyright. You don't *have* to do it, but if you do, you get extra legal benefits if you sue. Similarly, there's no need to centrally register a TM. You can put that on anything you feel is one of your trademarks. You're thinking of the R in a circle (R), that's a *registered* trademark. (There's also an (S) for registered Service Mark).

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (2, Funny)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | about 12 years ago | (#4326842)

Not really, you just point at your old magazine, then point at the new Hollywood movie, and say `when will I get my cash?`.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (3, Informative)

bluGill (862) | about 12 years ago | (#4326861)

Today everything you create is automaticly copyrighted. It wasn't always that way though. If I remember rightly until the late 1970's you had to claim copyright in a specific way or it was automaticly public domain. It was easy to do correctly, worst case was $25 plus a few stamps, no lawyer, but you had to do it. (companies would of course use a lawyer)

Laws change, the laws that applied back then count in this case, not the laws today.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (5, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | about 12 years ago | (#4326866)

Since 1978, copyright is automatic for new works. Works published before then but not explicitly copyrighted entered the public domain, and remained in the public domain after the law changed. See BitLaw's discussion [bitlaw.com] of the topic.

This is in contrast to trademark, for which you must always file to get legal protection.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326969)

This is in contrast to trademark, for which you must always file to get legal protection.


That's not correct. You have a trademark uponcreation of say a logo or name. If you see a "TM" next to it, that's for an unregistered trademark. Registering a trademark gets you the right to use the little circled 'r' and added ammo a legal fight.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? (1)

jarrell (545407) | about 12 years ago | (#4327116)

*Now*, yes. After the last major set up changes to the copyright laws, in the late 80s, the convention was that copyright existed as soon as something was put into fixed form. So, you write a story, even if you didn't mark it as copyrighted, it was. Now, if you mark it as such, and file paperwork with the library of congress to register it as having been copyrighted, then you can claim significantly higher damages if someone rips you off. But you can always get them to just stop ripping you off if you don't, so long as you can prove you wrote it before they did.

But before that last revision copyright didn't exist unless you specifically marked *every* copy as being copyrighted. Let something get out into the public without a copyright notice, and you'd just accidentally released it into the public domain.

That's why there's a version of the hobbit that is fair game for anyone; they didn't copyright it when it hit the US. Minor changes were made, and the next edition was.

I guess they will remain obscure (5, Funny)

_LORAX_ (4790) | about 12 years ago | (#4326784)

Since the site is so hosed it's not even funny. So they remain obsure.

-sigh-

This raises an interesting question.. (5, Insightful)

psxndc (105904) | about 12 years ago | (#4326791)

A lot of people like writing stories about say... Transformers. What is FanFic and what is official gospel from Hasbro has a pretty clear distinction.

Given that the characters in the article are public domain, is there any way to preserve the original intent of the character? I mean since they are public domain, one person could create a Black Terror that reinstates Nazi Germany. Another person create a Black Terror porno. If someone truly loved the character, how can the spirit of that character be preserved amid a landfill of junk?

Look at Batman. 60's TV show Batman is an abomination to me. Batman to me is supposed to be dark and gritty. The guy watched his parents gunned down as a child. That has to have some serious psychological effects. To see Adam West's gut hanging out over his utility belt while he, supposedly someone that had honed his body to the limits of human ability, punched out the joker's cronies with splahses of POW! and BLAMM!... Awful. But that was what the company was pushing at the time. Since then, DC has brought Batman back to what he should be. If Batman became public domain though, there could be a deluge of 60's Batman stories written by anybody and the original nature of the character would be completely lost. How do you preserve it?

psxndc

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (1)

Khaed (544779) | about 12 years ago | (#4326825)

While I see your point, do you really think anyone would write 60s-ish Batman stories?

Unless he's punching that stupid monkey from the one banner.

*POW*
Holy roughed up monkey, Batman! You won a prize!

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (1)

psxndc (105904) | about 12 years ago | (#4326850)

Of course not. But I never would have though they would have written Batman Forever and Batman and Robin the way they did either. :-)

psxndc

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (0, Offtopic)

Khaed (544779) | about 12 years ago | (#4326893)

... I concede to your point. That was low. ^_~

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326849)

The 60's Batman is way cool. What's not to like. He is a high-tech mellow Batman. He is a geek. Saw an epsiode recently (#31?) and in the batcave was a electronic machine labeled "Bat-Terror". Nice. Where's Batman when you really need him?

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (4, Funny)

GMontag (42283) | about 12 years ago | (#4326919)

Ahem...

True fans of that show, like I, watched mostly to see the female characters. It was an extra-special bonus to see the female characters tied up too.

That was my gateway media to bondage pr0n and I am GREATFUL that the show was on during my kindergarden/gradeschool years!

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (3, Funny)

c13v3rm0nk3y (189767) | about 12 years ago | (#4327003)

Mmmmm. Made me think of the episode when the Queen Bee and her scantily-clad "Honeybees" tied up both our heroes, after drugging them.

I Never really understood why I found that episode so titillating until I became an adult.

We need more thinly-veiled light BDSM fantasies in our children's shows.

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326987)

AToo Late!

m I the only person here who remembers the parody comics "Fatman & Ribbon" from the early to mid 1970's?

...preserve the original intent of the character? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4327115)

Yes, there is a way to preserve the original intent of a character that has passed into the public domain. Write stories with that character that fulfill the original intent, and make them so insanely great that everyone reads them instead of the schlock stories that violate the character's original intent.

As in all public domain and open source situations, it's up to you to make it what you want.

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (2, Insightful)

Jon-o (17981) | about 12 years ago | (#4327150)

A more pressing question might be, "why should anything be *preserved* at all?"

Why not let culture change and grow so that it can be understood and appreciated by a the new society that's really its audience?

It's not a simple questions, though the overwhelmingly popular answer these days is that everything cultural, from languages, to buildings, to superheroes needs to be preserved for all infinity. This certainly wasn't always the case! I think the very copyright laws that we love to hate here on Slashdot have done a lot to foster this notion (though it's a bit of a chicken & egg situation - the laws might just be in reaction to the attitudes already present).

In any case, I think more people should really consider what's more important: preserving history, or actually building new culture, and letting the past influence the present (and thus the future) on its own terms, without being stuck on a pedestal of historicity.

This might sound like hypocrisy, coming from a harpsichord player like myself, but it's an issue that I wrestle with every day, and have yet to come to a real conclusion.

Re:This raises an interesting question.. (1)

phiwum (319633) | about 12 years ago | (#4327158)

I like both the dark vision of Batman and the campy 1960s version.

The former sets a good comic tone, and the latter is funny.

Maybe the humor of the camp version would have fit better with an overly earnest hero, like Superman, but from what I've seen of 1960s era Batman comics, this dark interpretation largely came later.

Someone that knows comics better than I do might correct me about the 60s Batman comics.

GPL'd comic book characters? (2)

Darth RadaR (221648) | about 12 years ago | (#4326814)

Bugger! /.-ed!

DISCLAIMER:I'm not really a GPL cheerleader (I avoid politics, really), just providing some fast food for thought.

Though a character's history would be really erratic with a whole bunch of writers and artists doing their bidding with a GPL'd comic book hero(ine), it would provide opportunities for comic writers and artists to have a go at a story with a character they might not normally have a chance to. And that would definitely provide some interesting spins.

Re:GPL'd comic book characters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326856)

like say, Alien vs Predator vs Batman?

How about Rasterman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326824)

He is all but disappered from the Linux scence

"Never copyrighted"? I don't think so. (0, Interesting)

3583 Bytes Free (599675) | about 12 years ago | (#4326839)

Apparently, a bunch of golden age heroes were never copyrighted and just faded into obscurity

If they were created, they were copyrighted. Perhaps the copyrights were not registered, but that doesn't make them public domain. Perhaps the copyright owners are dead or defunct, or just don't care. Perhaps no one knows for sure who had the copyrights. And perhaps the copyright has expired.

Just don't say "they were never copyrighted" because that's just not true.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? I don't think so. (2, Redundant)

bluGill (862) | about 12 years ago | (#4326881)

Today that is true, but not back then. Today if you create it you own a copyright on it. Back then if you didn't take steps (I'm not sure what, but registration most likely) you had no copyright.

Re:"Never copyrighted"? I don't think so. (2, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | about 12 years ago | (#4326889)

Just don't say "they were never copyrighted" because that's just not true.

Please research your rants before issuing them. The law changed so that works published after 1978 do have automatic copyright. Works published before 1978 entered the public domain unless the author or creator registered them. See this page on BitLaw [bitlaw.com] .

Re:"Never copyrighted"? I don't think so. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326927)

How does a fucktard who is obviously wrong/ignorant get moderated up?


Wait, I know.

THE SLASHDOT MODERATING BOOBS ARE FUCKTARDS WHO ARE WRONG AND IGNORANT! Yay me. I figured it out. Where's my cash prize?

Re:"Never copyrighted"? I don't think so. (4, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | about 12 years ago | (#4326945)

This is exactly why it's dangerous that people believe everything was always the way it is today.

AT THE TIME, there was no automatic copyright.

Soon people will believe that it was always as it
is under the DMCA.

Pretty Easy (2)

squaretorus (459130) | about 12 years ago | (#4326847)

Its pretty easy to create a new public domain super hero - here goes!

Captain Spooner - he's got big spoons instead of hands! His feet are normal though. He can scoop up loads of water, earth, wax, ANTHING and dump it on top of criminals!

The Masked Kitten - Some sexy bint who runs around in a mask. She is NOT catwoman, because she wears a mask and is called 'huni' by her side kick 'Sheba' - who is actually her boss though neither of them know it. They were independent crime fighters when they first met at night while Sheba was kicking in a gang members head. The Masked Kitten liked her style!

FatCowboy - less of a super hero than an anti-hero this dude just floats around farting at people and then taking their chocolate!

Maybe /. should start a repository of public domain shite heros!

Re:Pretty Easy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326877)

lol. you just made me pee my pants

Re:Pretty Easy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326909)

Captain Spooner? Would his secret identity be a mild mannered pr0n star?

As for the Fat Cowboy, well, it's already been done, but as the Fat Ninja.

Re:Pretty Easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4326985)

The Masked Kitten - Some sexy bint who runs around in a mask. She is NOT catwoman, because she wears a mask and is called 'huni' by her side kick 'Sheba' - who is actually her boss though neither of them know it. They were independent crime fighters when they first met at night while Sheba was kicking in a gang members head. The Masked Kitten liked her style!

Are they lesbians?

Copyright expires... not with DRM (5, Interesting)

Paul Bristow (118584) | about 12 years ago | (#4326860)

Something missing from all the DRM discussions is the notion of copyright expiration. There should be a way to automatically decrypt all protected content when the copyright expires... otherwise what is the point of the expiration date? It's strange how the fact that copyright expires is missing from all the DRM debates?

Oh, and when does the copyright for the first movies and audio recordings expire again?

Comic Links (5, Informative)

dolo666 (195584) | about 12 years ago | (#4326872)

Here are a few links to comic stories I found about public domain.

Greats of the Golden Age Comics [rogers.com]

Golden Years Guide to Reprints (bright page) [tripod.com]

Golden Age comic book reprints [fortunecity.com]

When Works Pass Into the Public Domain [unc.edu]

Octobriana Public Domain Comic [easynet.co.uk]

Native Super Hero Contest [bluecorncomics.com]

Mickey Mouse (3, Interesting)

peterdaly (123554) | about 12 years ago | (#4326883)

It frustrates me how much copyright protections have been granted to, and stripped from us all in the name of protecting Mickey Mouse.

We have two periods of Copyrighted material. BM and AM. Most BM (before Mickey) material is in the public domain, while all material AM (after Mickey) is protected.

Never what the origional creators of copyright law intended.

-Pete

The great "Never Copyrighted" debate (4, Informative)

SerpicoWasTaken (552937) | about 12 years ago | (#4326899)

Sorry, I should have said that the copyright was never renewed and the heroes faded into obscurity. Also, just as an aside, we also took down www.newsaskew.com - the Kevin Smith fan site. They host www.newsarama.com which is where this article came from.

Re:The great "Never Copyrighted" debate (2)

matt_wilts (249194) | about 12 years ago | (#4326998)

> Also, just as an aside, we also took down www.newsaskew.com - the Kevin Smith fan site. They host www.newsarama.com which is where this article came from.

So, did Slashdot "fsck it up it's stupid ass" ? (IMDB trivia for Jay & Silent Bob) [imdb.com] )

Free Steamboat Willie! (5, Insightful)

Big Sean O (317186) | about 12 years ago | (#4326925)

In other cartoon public domain news:

The first Mickey Mouse cartoons would have eventually lapsed into the public domain if it weren't for the Sonny Bono law.

And if you want a 'real' superheroes in the PD: the 1940s Superman cartoon shorts (produced by Max and Dave Fleischer, the guys who make the old time popeye cartoons) are also (apparently) in the public domain.

The most disconcerting thing about the old Superman cartoons is that one of the villians had the same voice as Popeye! Gave me the willies.

Re:Free Steamboat Willie! (3, Informative)

SScorpio (595836) | about 12 years ago | (#4327128)

There are two DVDs of these cartoons. One of them is all of Fleischer's cartoons, and the other are later works by Future Studio after Fleischer left else.

You can normally pick them up for about $10, well worth it if your a fan of the old cartoons.

Max Fleischer's Cartoons:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail /-/dvd/1572523034/glance/102-2261467-1390511 [amazon.com]

Future Studio's Cartoons (Post David Fleischer):
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1572 524537/qid=1032963126/sr=1-5/ref=sr_1_5/102-226146 7-1390511?v=glance [amazon.com]

Collection of all 17 episodes together (cheaper seperately):
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/6305 943389/qid=1032963126/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/102-226146 7-1390511?v=glance [amazon.com]

Note: If you don't like Amazon you can pick them up almost anywhere that sells DVDs.

Superhoes? (-1, Offtopic)

bedouin (248624) | about 12 years ago | (#4326933)

I first saw this story and thought it said "Public Domain Superhoes." Nevermind.

Shazam! (2, Interesting)

ch-chuck (9622) | about 12 years ago | (#4326961)

One of my faves Captain Marvel [ozemail.com.au] - and his firesign friends, The Caped Madman, Rocket Jock, Spy Swatter, Sleeve Coat, and Spike in J-Men Forever [benway.com] !

Golden age super villains did this! (4, Funny)

macdaddy357 (582412) | about 12 years ago | (#4326975)

Why is the site about golden age superheros down? Golden age super villains took it out. I suspect The Terror, Dr. Ironbeard, The Ktulu from Timbuktu and Bulgarian Boogeyman!

I propose... (3, Funny)

nizo (81281) | about 12 years ago | (#4326977)

I propose that whoever invents the first working holodeck be made a superhero in advance (What, that isn't what the article was about? How would I know since it has been /.'ed into oblivion???)

Tux! (1, Offtopic)

e8johan (605347) | about 12 years ago | (#4326978)

The only super hero I care for is Tux [tux.org] . I cannot comment on the classic super heroes, as the site could not bear the load. Since there are several tux sites, they will probably survive the load better. Check here [tamu.edu] , here [tuxracer.com] , here [techass.com] , here [crosswinds.net] , here [crosswinds.net] , here [sjbaker.org] or here [lwn.net] .

The Valenti Disney Warner Microsoft Act of 2015 (1, Funny)

greensquare (546383) | about 12 years ago | (#4326981)

I predict that the Valanti Disney Warner Microsoft Act of 2015 (named partially in memory of Jack Valenti) will, in additon to increasing the legal limited copywrite term from 175 years to infinity minus 1 day, also reassign the ownership of all valuable public domain art from the public domain to whatever corporation can profit from them the most.

After all, as the new law's text will read, "what is the sense in having art if no corporation can profit from it?

Disney will be required Pay for all their new material by contributing $750,000 to the retirement fund for the Microsoft Geeks that run their "P2P DDOS Strike Force" that has been successful in knocking 99% of all P2P file traders, and FTP shareware sites off the net.

Here is a copy of the article (5, Informative)

protektor (63514) | about 12 years ago | (#4327057)

So - who owns the heroes of ABC/WildStorm's Terra Obscura? No one, everyone and DC. Kind of.
The characters who appeared in Tom Strong #11 and #12, including Pyroman, Miss Masque, The American Crusader, The Black Terror, the Fighting Yank, and Doc Strange (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tom Strong himself). In the story, "Terror on Terra Obscura," Strong teamed up with Strange to rescue the heroes, who had been imprisoned by an alien of impossible power.

To Tom Strong, the entire mission was somewhat surreal - to him, the heroes that he was helping to rescue existed on his earth solely as comic book characters, something like how the JSA existed as comic characters on Earth-1 to the JLA, back when there was an Earth-1 and Earth-2, or, if you want something a little more metaphysical, the existence of the heroes on the far side of the galaxy percolated through...ideaspace, where it was captured by comic creators on Tom Strong's earth who were imaginauts...or..something...

The heroes are slated to get a return engagement in 2003 when Peter Hogan pens a Terra Obscura miniseries for ABC [with art by Yanique Paquette and Karl Story], utilizing the same characters on the same world. Ideally, interest will be high enough, according to Hogan, in the miniseries that ABC will launch the heroes of Terra Obscura in their own ongoing monthly.

If you're the gambling sort, it's a safe bet that a solid 99% of the readers of the Tom Strong storyline thought that the characters were simply fruits of Alan Moore's imagination, heroes who were shared shades of similarity to "real" Golden Age comic heroes. After all, the proper archetypes were present - the patriotic hero (the Fighting Yank), the science hero (American Crusader), the "dark" hero (The Black Terror, renamed the Terror, who comes complete with young sidekick), the jungle queen (Princess Panther), the monster, the fire-man, and even the talking ape were there.

The thing is, the characters weren't, or at least originally weren't the products of Moore's imagination - the heroes of Terra Obscura were, in fact, real comic characters published in the 1940s by Ned Pines under the Standard/Better/Nedor imprint(s). While the fact does little to change the story, it does raise a question or two. No, DC didn't quietly acquire another stable of comic characters as they had done with the Charlton characters in the late '80s by buying them outright - the Nedor characters are themselves in a unique position in terms of copyright: They are in the public domain, and can therefore be freely used by anyone. As an aside - in the ABC universe, the heroes are located on "Terra Obscura," a unique world which itself is an invention of Alan Moore, and is therefore copyrighted to DC/ABC/WildStorm.

Before we continue, a little history lesson is needed on how things got to be the way they are.

A Publisher of Many Names

The heroes which are collectively referred to as "Nedor" heroes were originally published by Pines, who had three names for his publishing company over the years, Standard, Better, and Pines. As a company, Standard began publishing in 1932, and was the king of comics with adjective titles - Thrilling Comics, Thrilling Detective, Exciting Comics, Startling Comics - all were staples of Standard/Better/Pines over the years.

From the early days, Standard employed editor Leo Margulies and Mort Weisinger, who took the ball and ran with it, in 1939 creating series after series, and hero after hero. Alex Schomberg provided dozens of covers over the series' runs. Standard's standard fair for the early '40s was pulp-inspired superheroes, but as Standard couldn't get a good footing against National Periodical Publications' stars of the costumed set, Superman and Batman (as well as the Justice Society) and others, and sales of Standard's hero line slipped, and by 1949, the company dropped costumed heroes, sticking to real-life adventures, funny animal books, and romance comics. Aside from the Nedor heroes, one character of Standard's original comic series remains alive today - Dennis the Menace.

Like many of the comic characters created in the 1940s, the heroes of the Standard line weren't copyrighted. It wasn't necessarily a careless move by the publisher, just a simple business decision. Remember - this was in the days before the phrase "intellectual property" was even coined, and comic book characters were disposable commodities. One was created in order to sell comics to boys, and when its sales started to slip, another was created to take its place. "Progress" was the theme of the day, and no one would have thought to bring back a concept that was perceived to have failed - why return to something that the public clearly had passed on? Thinking of the better world coming tomorrow was the name of the game, and nostalgia had yet to become a pastime for individuals and an income stream for companies. Everyone, from the man on the street to comic book publishers, was looking for the next big thing, and had precious little time to spend on the old thing that no one wanted.

At the same time, creators' right were largely unheard of, and the creators themselves were generally nose-to-the-grindstone workhorses, and no real interest or incentive to try to keep or reclaim their original work or worry about the rights to the characters they wrote or drew. After all, the first comic book fandom had yet to be born, and the first "comic book convention" was decades away. Aside from a few superstars, comic artists and writers were scratching by, and were immensely more concerned with putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head than securing the rights of ownership for a pulp knockoff they jotted down when the publisher came looking for a comic book hero.

Additionally, the Standard/Nedor heroes were like many, many other heroes of the '40s - colorful, and attention grabbing when they were on the cover of a comic, but ultimately, their stories were pretty pedestrian. No kids were clamoring for fan clubs or decoder rings from the Nedor line, as they were for Superman. Within a few years of the end of their publication, the heroes sank beneath the waves of popular culture, remembered only by a very few.

"Come on Little Chum - We're Going Into the Public Domain!"

With the above influences working on them, in their original form, the Nedor characters were never trademarked, and the stories in which they appeared in have long gone out of copyright (a period which lasted 28 years after publication) and were not renewed. As such, the characters legally moved into the public domain one by one, beginning with Doc Strange, in order of their publication, making it free for anyone to use them.

The public wha...?

For example, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden has had multiple adaptations, spinoffs and derivative products come out - all of which are legal, from the Secret Garden Cookbook to the most recent movie adaptation, because the work is in the public domain. Anyone can create a work based on the original without having to acquire any kind of rights whatsoever - the work, legally, belongs to all mankind.

An aside - before you go off thinking that governments actually made one law that would ultimately benefit the culture of the planet in a timeless fashion, copyright critics, pointing fingers at recent copyright extensions, such as the Sonny Bono Act (which was lobbied for largely by large media companies, and the validity of which is slated to be argued to the Supreme Court by Lawrence Lessig on October 9th) claim that the number of works entering the public domain has been drastically reduced in the past thirty years, and they're right. The move is seen by many anti-copyright pundits as a move as a culture from valuing the expression of an individual artist to valuing a corporate property.

Ironically, Walt Disney, one of the companies that has lobbied the hardest for copyright extension (ensuring the company will reap the profits from their characters for generations to come) is also one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public domain - from Snow White to Cinderella, Jungle Book (released one year after Kipling's own copyright expired) and much of classical music in Fantasia came from the public domain. Without recent extensions approved by congress, Mickey Mouse would have gone into the public domain in 2004.

So - how does all of this apply to the Nedor heroes? Well, as alluded to previously, they didn't just go into the public domain, and ABC/WildStorm isn't the first comic publisher to publish them - or even the only publisher to currently publish them. The Nedor heroes have bubbled up a few times in the decades since their journey into the public domain, from Ace Comics and First Comics to Eclipse and currently, AC Comics.

The Point Is: No One's Fighting

Before moving on, it must be stressed that none of this is a matter of publishing legality - everyone, from AC to WildStorm to anyone reading this article could legitimately and legally create and publish comics starring any of the Nedor heroes that are based on the original materials from the '40s. There's the rub - the characters have to be based directly upon the original versions which appeared in the comics. From there, things get a little more...legal.

For example, take The Black Terror. Created in 1941 by Richard Hughes and David Gabrielsen, the character first appeared in Exciting Comics #9 in 1941. Both AC and ABC took the base character, The Black Terror, and modified it (in different ways), and renamed it The Terror (AC, after naming their version, later renamed theirs "The Terrorist"). Both were based on Nedor's The Black Terror, but were modified in unique ways by the respective publishers. Likewise, Beau Smith's version of the character, published by Eclipse (and co-written with Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Dan Brereton) used the name, but was worlds away from the original version. The character also showed up in the '80s in versions published by Ace Comics, and in Roy Thomas' Alter Ego comic series at First Comics.

In Smith's case, the desire to use the Nedor hero as a starting point for his own take was a result of childhood memories. "When I was a kid, my dad gave me a couple of old coverless Black Terror comics that he had as a kid," Smith said. "There were in the attic at my grandma's attic. I got hooked on the cool looking character with the skull and crossbones on his chest. I always wanted to do something with the character after that.

"He was in the public domain, and I had a high concept crime/alternate universe idea
that I had been saving up, and this was the perfect opportunity for it. I called my buddy Chuck Dixon and we decided to write it together. We changed the basic background of the character and did our own. As a result of what we did with the original concept, Chuck and I have the rights to the story and the characters as they appeared in our three issue run....names and all that."

Smith said he wasn't sure if Eclipse owned any of the rights to the characters, or if Todd McFarlane acquired the rights to his and Dixon's version of the Black Terror when he purchased the Eclipse assets. Smith did write a new story with the Black Terror while he was with McFarlane Productions, which was illustrated by Clayton Crain, but to date, McFarlane has opted not to publish it.

Smith wasn't the only creator with a soft spot in his heart for the characters - as mentioned previously, the pool of Nedor characters had been dipped into by Roy Thomas and ACE Comics, but in 1988, publisher Bill Black brought back a host of public domain characters, including many of the Nedor heroes for use in AC's Femforce series, placing them in new series, as well as reprinting original stories.

Over the years, AC Comics has taken the initiative to seek out and preserve many Golden Age comics and heroes, painstakingly retouching and correcting the art from the original comics - since no original art still exists - to produce reprint editions. As stated on their website, AC's reprints of public domain Golden Age comics is threefold:

1. To help preserve the history of the American comic book.
2. To make material available to collectors who have been priced out of the Golden-Age collecting market.
3. To introduce Golden-Age material to a new generation of comic book readers.

AC has also endeavored to compile information about the creators of the Golden Age comics - as much as it is available - and publish the information in various magazines, including Men of Mystery, which featured the Nedor heroes in a special edition.

Again, given the time period in which the work was originally created, many creators were never credited with their work, and in some cases, attribution of the creation of Golden Age characters is only anecdotal in nature.

Along with reprints of the original characters, AC has written the Nedor heroes as continuations of their Golden Age incarnations, maintaining the same general concepts and secret identities, but have also made some alterations in terms of costumes and names. The changes AC has made in the Nedor characters made done in order to make their versions distinctive in order that the publisher could copyright their stories, as well as protect their looks, just as Smith and Dixon did with their version of the Black Terror, and ABC has done with their versions of the characters.

To date, AC has been publishing the Nedor heroes (both on their own and as supporting characters) for going on twenty years, a run nearly double the original run the characters enjoyed in the '40s.

As the covers in this article show, the Terra Obscura storyline in Tom Strong #11 and #12 isn't the only connection between the Nedor line and WildStorm's ABC line - in 1942, Nedor launched America's Best Comics #1, a title which brought together Nedor's top three characters, Fighting Yank, Doc Strange, and the Black Terror together between two covers. And of course, there is that similarity between Doc Strange and Tom Strong, noted by Strong in issue #11 - the two could be brothers. It was a similarity Moore himself noted in an interview with Previews, but said that while he was inspired the America's Best Comics title as a name for a line, the similarity between the two characters was a complete coincidence.

For Moore aficionados, his account of later discoveries after creating both Tom Strong and Promethea come as little surprise, and fit into the creators' theories about ideaspace and the fact that he occasionally runs off and prays to a snake god...or...something under his house. "I didn't know there was The Book of Promethea by Hélène Cixous, or things like that," Moore told Previews. "I didn't know John Kendrick Bangs had written a bunch of stories about a place very much like the Immateria when I made Sophie Bangs the secret identity of Promethea. All of these things are delicious coincidences. I even found a character created from about 1910 in a series of novels published by the Boy Scouts of America about this ultimate Boy Scout named Tom Strong. It's just great! If you're hitting the right kind of vein of archetypal stuff then things like this will just happen. I'm just tapping into something. It works out."

In a recent interview with Newsarama, Moore expanded upon his decision to use the characters. "The original idea for the whole thing came when somebody, it may have been Rick Veitch, told me that there had been, back in the '40s, an America's Best Comics which I wasn't aware of," Moore said. "I thought it was a striking coincidence that we had America's Best Comics, and there was a series by the same name in the '40s. I asked [ABC editor] Scott Dunbier to check it out and see if he could find out anything about this comic, and whether there were any interesting characters.

"For all I knew, it might have been a Western comic book, but I asked him to tell me if there were any interesting characters, with an eye to possibly reviving them if they were sort of old, forgotten characters, in the current America's Best Comics as a kind of instant 1940s continuity. I left it with Scott, and he got back to me, along with some other people who sent me covers from the original comics - it was then I realized that Doc Strange looked very much like Tom Strong - he had the same kind of bizarrely muscled physique. He wore a red t-short, and these jodhpurs, and boots. I realized that we wouldn't be able to do a character with the name Doc Strange [due to this upstart company called Marvel, which had created a character named Dr. Strange in the interim]. I though that maybe we could change the name to Tom Strange, because at that point, I though that point his first name had never been given. I found out later that it was Hugo, so I think that the current orthodoxy at ABC is that his name is Thomas Hugo Strange."

Moore said that originally, the plan was to use the characters only for the two-part "Terra Obscura" storyline which would explain where Tom Strange came from - it was a story that needed a world populated with heroes. "I came up with the Terra Obscura idea, which I thought was an interesting variant on the notion that this is a planet which is in the same dimension as ours, and is an exact duplicate, just elsewhere in space," Moore said. "I started to research as many of the Nedor heroes as I could. Jim Steranko was a great help - he dug out loads of old articles which filled in a lot of details for me, and we did the story from there.

"That was originally going to be all we were doing. Then, Pete Hogan, after having just done a pretty splendid job on the Tesla Strong special was looking for something else to do. He suggested that, because there was such a lot of positive feedback and interest on the web regarding the Terra Obscura characters that he wondered about doing a miniseries. It sounded good to me. Pete and I have been working together on this, and it's coming along well.

"Initially, it was an idea if there was an interesting character in this 1940s, America's Best Comics we could kind of bring him back in the present day and pleasantly confuse readers as to whether America's Best Comics really did exist in the 1940s," Moore continued. "It was more that than anything - we'd exploit the coincidence and sort of pretended that we had this backlog of characters that stretched back to the 1940s."

The Perils and Promise of the Public Domain

By becoming part of the public domain, the heroes of the old Standard line of comics are part of the cultural heritage of the United States and world, just like Thomas Nash's versions of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam, and nearly all the classical music in the world. As such, they can be used by current creators as source material who would be "standing on the shoulders of giants" as it were to create their own, new works.

According to public domain advocates, what AC and ABC (and previously, Eclipse and others) are doing with the old Nedor heroes is exactly why material should go into the public domain, that is, the original works can be freely built upon to further enhance the cultural landscape of the world. Okay, so whether or not FemForce and Tom Strong #11 and #12 enhance the cultural landscape of the world is arguable, but again, AC and ABC are doing exactly what they're supposed to in regards to works in the public domain - using them as source works, and either re-presenting them or building upon them to tell new stories.

It's exactly what Borders or Barnes & Noble do when they publish and release their own editions of classic literature - or, for that matter, what Alan Moore did in creating League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. That said though, working with properties from the public domain, especially when using them as a foundation to build upon comes with its own problems due to the simple fact that anyone can do it. If one publishing house starts up a version of say, Pyroman (a Nedor hero) with writer A and artist B, a publishing house down the street can do their own version of Pyroman with writer C and artist D.

In such a setting, the market would determine which version of the character survives, based on everything from quality of the product to the marketing each publishers attempt. One publish could win out over the other and make millions while the other fails, despite the time and effort expended.

While neither Dunbier nor anyone from AC Comics chose to go on record, sources confirmed that, despite the legalities of each company's use of the characters, the smaller publisher is mildly annoyed at ABC's apparent ongoing use of the characters.

Also, in today's world where the creator of a property has come to be considered in higher regard than in years past, there is a danger in a property such as the Nedor heroes entering the public domain and then being revised or revisited by a creator such as Alan Moore or Peter Hogan, and that is that the original creators of the work may be forgotten or overlooked. Already, the specific creator pedigree of many Nedor heroes is unknown, lost in the mists of time and churning of the 1940s' publishing industry.

As stated above, many readers of Tom Strong #11 or #12 would automatically assign the creation of the Terra Obscura characters to Moore - after all, the guy did create heroes that were a shade away from the Charlton heroes for Watchmen, why couldn't he just do it again?

As a result, the original creators of the characters are lost to the mists of time - technically, as they should be, as part of becoming part of the public domain, but perhaps unfairly so in the view of fans indoctrinated in the creator rights battles of the past decades.

The public domain, in the eyes of its advocates, is a necessary part of the cultural landscape of America - something that the founding fathers outlined - something that allows a vigorous and growing culture without the restrictions of royalties. For every pro argument, there's a con, mostly from copyright holders.

For example, if Disney and other media companies would be unsuccessful in extending the term of copyright extension, Mickey Mouse hits the public domain in 2003. Legally, Universal could produce a line of Mickey Mouse cartoons based on the original appearance of the character from the 1928 Steamboat Willie, and anyone could package and sell the original Steamboat Willie cartoon - all without credit or payment to Walt Disney.

The challenges of public domain don't just affect the Nedor heroes - there are dozens upon dozens of Golden Age heroes who are currently in the public domain waiting for their chance at a second shot or re-presentation, or to be completely forgotten, their histories, creators, and adventures lost forever.

Free Mickey Mouse! (3, Informative)

artemis67 (93453) | about 12 years ago | (#4327145)

Interestingly enough, Mickey Mouse is due to enter the public domain [saljournal.com] in 2004, unless Congress passes a copyright extension. The copyright is only good for 50 years after the owner/creator's death. A move is underway to extend that to 75 years.
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