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Full-body costume puppets

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by ScottMonster, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    What most people (myself included) don't like is people creating Muppet replicas and selling them. I was actually interested in the fabric for making some kid's Hallowe'en costumes.
  2. fragglerockr

    fragglerockr Well-Known Member

    Ok...I guess as long as it's not unlicensed Bert and Ernie costumes...


  3. fishbone

    fishbone Well-Known Member

    :eek: dude, nobodies even talking about makin & selling muppets,or costumes ,so if you have no problem with it,why do you keep bringing it up?legal or illegal,it's not going to effect you,unless your a muppet.
  4. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

  5. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Well-Known Member

    this just became a hot thread :eek:
    da web croniclz likes this.
  6. fragglerockr

    fragglerockr Well-Known Member


    I'm glad you re-read my comments and edited you post! Please know that I have no personal problem with you. That said, my comments were said to address a point that keeps coming up in these forums and posts.

    So fan-costumes are ok, but just no puppet replicas being sold? What if you sell the costumes. Actually, by legal definition, making the costumes and making puppets would still be infringement. Why are we so willing to overlook that fact and simply tack on the justification, well, as long as you're not making a profit from it...it's ok. Like, it's ok to speed, as long as there aren't any cops.

    I don't have any problems with any of it. I think it's a display of talent period to be able to replicate something that well. I'm a member of several fan communites and most encourage people to create replicas and fan-created items...even if they are to sell. People in this forum who create replicas in my opinion rock. I have several that I love and have several of my own creations but I'd be darned if I'll ever show them here due to the Salem Witch Trial-like attitude a few members have.

    I don't understand the sense of entitlement that a few think they have to make judgements about copyrights and trademarks of the Muppets. I understand people have a deep connection to these characters but the reality is they don't belong to us. So let the over-priced corporate lawyers handle this...it's their jobs not ours. Besides no one is running a Kathy Lee Gifford sweatshop in Asia making hundreds of Muppets and making a dent in poor Disney's pocketbook.

    We've all heard the stories of the performers who have gone to auditions with Jim and took their replica puppets. Did he chastise them with lectures about copyrights or trademarks. I think we could take a cue from him.

    I think the few that have such issues need to relax...if you can't something nice...then say nothing. The people who want to comment and make a compliment, do so. I'm sure the artist appreciates it. If it's for sale great. It's probably the closest you'll come to get a three dimensional version of your favorite character.

    You have issues with infringers...great but we got your messages 52 posts ago. Relax have a cup of coffee, read the paper, but easy on the attitude it's a real buzz-kill. :)

    "And that's all I have to say about the war in Vietnam"

    Now back to your regularly scheduled chat.

  7. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Sigh. Here we go again. :rolleyes:

    This has been discussed to death umpteen millions times (which I realize newer members may not be aware of) but most fan produced items made for personal use and not sale are legal under copyright laws because they are considered "fair use." There's a thread devoted to this in more detail here. What's illegal is mass producing something or trying to sell a Muppet replica, like on ebay for example.

    Now some of us have agreed to disagree on this issue, and that's OK. Debate and discussion is important. There's a lot of good and bad trends in copyright laws these days and whether you're interested in them or not they're actually very important to the future of franchises like the Muppets.

    I don't think anyone has a "sense of entitlement" and if any judgements are being made it's not based on an opinion or point of view but the fact that there are very specific rules and laws about what you can and cannot do with intellectual property. Some people don't care or don't respect that and obviously .

    It's been my experience though that most people do have a poor or limited understanding of copyright law and most of the "52 posts" you refer to have been less about coming down on people and more about educating people about copyright law and debunking common copyright myths, like the one you mentioned. There's a lot of misinformation out there.
  8. fragglerockr

    fragglerockr Well-Known Member


    That is not a myth. I work with attorneys all day on my 'real' (mon-fri) job. And like any and all law, it all is open to interpretation of the courts. So, please don't tell me how a law is and is not read! I do respect your opinion but I will not and do not agree with you. If we're going to follow the letter of the law then why is ok to make copies of cd's & movies for trade or at cost in this forum but filesharing is balked at and is considered a no-no.

    Yes, I have been present for the other 52 other discussions or so (and yes I was being sarcastic but it does seem to come up very often here) and I see that we will never see eye to eye. Also, fine. But again the Muppets are not our property to worry about so I think we need to let the respective copyright holders take care of their own buisness and stop acting like the 5th grade class tattle-tale.

    Perhaps we should add it to the Muppet Central FAQ so we wouldn't have to hear the same old lecture over and over again. Then people can make their opinion based on that knoweldge rather than being jumped on by other members and told what is or is not right for them. Then let them make a moral decision of their own. Then perhaps add to the rules that the selling of replica puppets is off limits. But then I suppose it'll be ok if it's a trade... :rolleyes:

    If someone were trying to infringe on Beartown then by all means take action. Likewise, I might if someone were trying to my copy my designs. But unless they were making hella' dollars off of it, or claiming it as their own, I doubt I'd care. To me, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Let me pose this question to you and then I'm done with the subject matter:

    How would you handle this situation? Suppose you (not that it would ever happen to you) were to create a Muppet replica. It took you lots of time to make and create and you are very happy with it. But let's say, for whatever reason, you are forced to part with it. You still care about it and don't want to toss it out. You want to find an appropriate home for it. Someone who will take care of it.

    Being that it cost you blood, sweat, tears, and some considerable financing (Antron Fleece is not that cheap) How then do you get rid of it? It has value but according to you, you can't sell it. (That would be illegal and unethical) So, donating to Goodwill or some such other place is out becuase undoubtedly someone will let it become trashed like most stuffed toys end up...what then? Suppose you don't know of anyone locally to give it to or would want it near you. Not everyone is a Muppet fan you knoe. I guess the staunch moral thing to do would be to throw it out and into the garbage but I certainly know, I wouldn't.

    Fragglerockr (who is done making his point)
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure why the hostility has been ratcheted up so high all of a sudden - 5th grade tattletale? I absolutely resent that.

    Given the opportunity I can cut it down with the 3rd graders (at least). :p

    Look, I think we're arguing two sides of the same coin here. I've never claimed to be a lawyer, but I do deal with intellectual property law issues professionally and have a pretty solid understanding of the laws and the relevant case law which - as you pointed out - governs how those laws are interpreted. It sounds like you do too and obviously don't agree with the literal interpretation of them. I don't either. The copyright system is really messed up and the current laws betray the spirit of what copyright was supposed to be about.

    You're right that a lot of these issues are open to legal interpretation. The sad fact is though that the US courts and Congress have increasingly eroded "fair use" which effects the average fan by placing legal restructions on how they can use copyrighted material. Can you just ignore the laws within reason? Sure. But you shouldn't have to and if more people are aware of how outrageously restrictive the system is maybe it will change and this can be a moot debate.

    You mentioned my Bear Town thing and the main "bad guy" character is a white polar bear named Big Bear which I've had in place (and in use) for many years. Awhile back, Steve Axtell's company started selling a white polar bear puppet named, yup, Big Bear. Now technically I could have a made a huge issue out of this - a case could probably be made that there could be confusion in the puppet market - but that would be silly. The name "Big Bear" is sort of generic and a white polar character is not exactly original (Steve btw is a very good guy and I'm sure was totally unaware of my Big Bear when that product came out).

    So if you have the impression I'm real fanatical about copyright stuff you're mistaken. I do tend to point out when misleading copyright info is posted, but I also got to great pains to explain the difference between the letter of the law and the application of the law which as you mentioned are often two different things. And I've got better things to do than worry about Kermits people are whipping up in their basements.

    What did this have to do with full body costume puppets again? :zany:
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    P.S. ~ I think a copyright addition to the FAQ is a great idea Fragglerockr. Both sides of this debate to get covered over and over again...mostly because of newer people I think.

    Oh, and those Hallowe'en costumes - they're fair use. See? No hypocrisy whatsoever. :D
  11. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    MAN! I need an attorney just to talk on MC! lmao..... just kidding guys! :p ;)
  12. Blink

    Blink Well-Known Member

    Just a question. How could there be "confusion in the puppet market" if your character was from "a crude version of Bear Town" that you had done back in your student film days? Doesn't your character have to be recognizable? If your puppet character hasn't had any (or much) exposure (especially in the puppet martket) how could there be confusion?

    I was just thinking, if Steve Axtell's bear becomes recognizable as "Big Bear", then if you put out Bear-Town, could he say that you are the one causing confusion in the puppet market?

    I think it is a good point. Those two alien puppets you had me make for you three years ago (that you never paid me for or paid back material you "borrowed"), those character designs I ran across a year later. Your designs were clearly taken from a "how to draw cartoons" book. The design was exactly the same (except for the lack of ears). Now that company could have argued copyright violations, becasue the book was published, but if I were to do a small student film that few people have seen, what legal actions would I really have. No one would be confused about my character, because it has not been exposed enough.

    I don not know as much about copyright laws as you appear to, so these points are open ideas.

    - Blink :confused:
  13. Beebers

    Beebers Well-Known Member

    Stop attacking Buck. Anyone who's doing it. *steps in, lands big fat right hook, returns to sandbox*. Really. I mean it. Buck's integrity brings considerable value to this forum. Agree to disagree, without attacking.

    :attitude: :attitude: :attitude:
  14. Blink

    Blink Well-Known Member

    I would like to make it clear that my points are not an attack. My points are all valid and my questions deserve a response. Please Beebers, with all due respect, I am guessing that I know Buck much better than you do (unless you are a friend of his living in the GTA). I have worked with him professionally (puppeteering), I have been hired to build for him and I have even been to his house. I am not going to talk about Buck's integrity (because this is not what this is all about).

    I agree that Buck does offer lots of information to this forum. I am not agreeing or disagreeing, I am making points and asking questions. Which is what this forum is about.

    So Beebers, "punches" are a little much.

    - Blink :concern:
  15. Beebers

    Beebers Well-Known Member

    Eeeet was zee euphemism, lol.

    :D :D :D
  16. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    I totally agree with Beepers...... you could have brought up an example or stated your question without making a pathetic attempt at trying to attack Bucks ethics and personal relationship with you.... regardless of how many times you've seen his house, built with him, or how long you've known him.
  17. Beebers

    Beebers Well-Known Member

    Ditto to zee ditto lol. Rubber chicken, anyone?

  18. Blink

    Blink Well-Known Member

    It is all relevent (to who was saying it). Why not make my point with my own personal perspective/experiences? If Buck is going to talk about copyrights, why not have him relate it to his experiences? What would be pathetic, would be for me to be indirect and say "A friend of a friend of mine copied a character..blah..blah..blah". Like I said it is relevent to who was saying it.

    The point about Buck not paying me was relevent to the context of the alien puppets (for me), it is the truth and is something that he himself has acknowledged (indirectly). This is not directly about Buck's ethics...and on this issue you have very little of the background (or at least there is more than you probably realize).

    But back to the point...if someone does not have a character that is recognizable, then do they have much of a leg to stand on?

    *pathetically attempts to bow to pressure*

    If "a friend of a friend of mine" created a character and then I found out that a book company had printed this same character before this person had designed it, then how would that legally change the positions of this person from if the book had come out after he had designed the character?

    Does he (or anyone for that matter) have a strong legal position to sue if that character is not recognizable?

    - Blink

  19. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Well-Known Member

    The fact that you even mention Buck having not paid you for work, or for materials that you quoted as being "borrowed" has nothing to do with the subject.

    It would appear, from an outside perspective, that you saw this thread as a good opportunity for you to try and broadcast your frustration with some personal business between you and buck..... It doesn't require much "background" on the subject matter to see that. I do believe that is why Beepers and Myself feel that you were attacking someone that we both respect.

    Your opinion on the matter would not have sacrificed strength or value had you left the personal "dig" about Buck out of it. I think your smart enough to know that, but maybe you just wanted to TRY and manipulate us into thinking that the comments and naming names were required in order to make us understand your point??? RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.
  20. Blink

    Blink Well-Known Member

    As I stated earlier it was relevant to the alien puppets as they related to myself and Buck. If you look closely at the post I was directly speaking to Buck. The fact that I have been on this board for years and I have never said anything about Buck is proof that if I had wanted this to be about Buck, I could have done it many times and long ago.

    I had thoughts that I felt compelled to raise with Buck regarding the topic that I had been reading about, and I did. It is great that Buck has people who respect him so much. That aside, my points were valid in the context that they were directed to Buck. I was NOT trying to manipulate you or Beepers, especially since my points were not about how you did or did not take them, I was clarifying. My original point was made to Buck, it was valid and truthful. If you don't like it when people raise truthful and relvant points about people you respect (if they are not glowing praises) then you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

    I have explained this point way too much and we are now way off topic. I think I made my point in the last post without offending. So can we get back on topic?

    - Blink :D

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