The owners of Tintin have made an official comment on copyright as an indirect response of the persecution of Tintin fan Bob Garcia. Unfortunately they have completely misrepresented the law of copyright as it stands in the UK and most of Europe.
Some maintain that Moulinsart keeps an iron grip on the rights it has acquired; on the contrary, we are the first to respect the freedom of expression. We have never prevented anyone from writing a book about Tintin, or any other aspect of Hergé’s life and work. We have total respect for authors!
If the author of a book about Tintin wants to illustrate it with pictures or photos taken from the work or life of Hergé, then it is only normal that we ask to read the manuscript first. This is also simply a basic freedom.
If a book is lacking quality or is intentionally negative, it is quite normal for us to feel that we shouldn’t allow the reproduction of frames taken from Hergé’s books, or drawings the author realised: if we were to allow the use of such images, we would give the impression of supporting the work in question….
Every year, hundreds of requests to use one or a number of pictures by Hergé are authorised, … In 2009, less than 10 requests were turned down: … We clearly inform those who would like to use one of Hergé’s drawings about certain rules which they are expected to honour.
Moulinsart are misrepresenting the law here.
Fair Dealing allows producers of books and other works to incorporate copyright images WITHOUT THE OWNERS PERMISSION. An author does not need seek permission from Moulinsart. An author does not need to send Moulinsart a copy of their work to get it approved. All an author needs to do is ensure that the use of copyright material is limited to a reasonable amount and acknowledge the copyright holder’s ownership.
This does not mean that anyone can grab a picture of Tintin and use it to sell their product. Fair Dealing only applies to reporting and critical analysis. I can use the copyrighted text above without asking permission only because I am analysing what they have said. This legal right places no restrictions on the quality of my work. This article could be rubbish or completely hostile to Moulinsart and I would still enjoy the legal protection of Fair Dealing as long as I limited the text I quote to a reasonable amount.
It is the question of “What is reasonable?” that Bob Garcia appears to have run foul of.
There is no defined legal limits as to how much can be used under Fair Dealing. It could by 10% or it could be 90% depending on the circumstance. Reproducing 100 words from a 200 word article is different from reproducing 100 words from a 100,000 word book.
The use of copyrighted materials also has to be relevant. I can quote the article above because it is relevant to the subject but I could not scatter this article with images of Tintin because they would not be relevant.
What is reasonable is a highly subjective issue and this is where authors and publishers get into trouble.
In the Bob Garcia case, it appears that he was right on the border between acceptable and unacceptable usage. When Moulinsart first sued, Mr Garcia won the initial case based on the idea of Fair Dealing. However Mounlinsart appealed and won.
No one is saying that Moulinsart should not protect their intellectual property rights. No one is saying that everyone should be able to use Tintin images to sell their products. What people are saying is that bankrupting a Tintin fan like Bob Garcia for producing a pamphlet in good faith is heavy handed and mean spirited.
Source: Tintin.com Copyright: the latest from Moulinsart.