Use of a superhero image in a flyer/poster

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Jecabe
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Use of a superhero image in a flyer/poster

Post by Jecabe » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:26 pm

We would like to use a photograph as a flyer/poster for a play (for a not for profit company) which has a toy superhero figure (i.e. a plastic doll) in it. The head of the superhero has a cardboard box on it, so is not visible. So the costume of the toy is visible from the waist to the neck. The photograph has then been altered, with effects to create a distorted image. Any views on whether the photograph/image would be an infringement of copyright would be gratefully appreciated.

Jecabe
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Re: Use of a superhero image in a flyer/poster

Post by Jecabe » Sat Mar 24, 2018 7:59 am

Just to mention, we are in the UK.

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AndyJ
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Re: Use of a superhero image in a flyer/poster

Post by AndyJ » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:14 am

Hi Jecabe,

Thanks for the additional detail. I am assuming that the plastic doll is clothed in a costume which is recognisable as a specific superhero such as, for instance, Superman. Therefore it is possible that the part of the torso which is visible might show show details of what might be described as the superhero's logo, so for instance the 'S" on a diamond shaped background, or a bat shape in the case of Batman, etc. These are the things you need to avoid as they are the most likely aspects which identify the actual superhero and distinguish them from another hero.

I am also assuming that you need to refer to an established superhero rather than creating your own fictional mashup, and so this leaves open the possibility of a passing off claim against your company as it would seem that the purpose is commercial even though not for profit. As it is likely that the toy manufacturer is making the doll under licence from a film studio or possibly a comic publisher, there will be a great incentive for both licensor and licensee to prevent any dilution of the 'brand' associated with the character. It also increases the likelihood that there may be registered trade marks relating to the character. Given these admittedly small risks, especially if the flyers and posters are only deployed quite locally, you may get a cease and desist letter, but as this will no doubt arrive after the actual event (the play) this may be something you can live with. But nonetheless, I would advise you to modify the appearance of the toy figure as much as possible unless this completely defeats the purpose of using the figure in the first place.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

Fatty
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Re: Use of a superhero image in a flyer/poster

Post by Fatty » Thu May 10, 2018 4:37 pm

I would agree with everything Andy J says on this one. I wouldn't do it. Far better to create your very own super hero. It might be a good opportunity to get those creative juices flowing and come up with something more beneficial to your promotion. :D

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