Hey! You Put Your Garou in My Ventru!

September 9th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

“You could say he was a brave man. Hell… you could say he was a bicycle. See? You could say just about anything you want!” — “Doon” (more or less)

My least favorite part of the copyright class I recently took was playing the whole “does it infringe or not?” game, and here’s an item that seems to fill the bill for everything I hated about that game, namely that faced with a competent/hungry/pissed off attorney, people can say just about anything they want. (Certainty! I crave certainty! Not “well, it might stick.”)

The upcoming movie “Underworld” looks sort of interesting: It’s a kind of Matrixey-Bladey sort of thing capitalizing on the universal appeal of emotionally distant hotties in vinyl pants. “Underworld” centers around the forbidden love between a vampire and a werewolf… a refiguring of “Romeo and Juliet.” WhiteWolf, creator of a line of role-playing products involving werewolves and vampires, is suing “Underworld’s” studio for copyright infringement.

Some of the complaint seems, well, infringey, some of it is sort of stupid, like:

  1. In the World of Darkness, some vampires are capable of amazing

speed. In “Underworld,” some vampires move with amazing speed.

  1. In the World of Darkness, wood does not kill vampires. In

“Underworld,” the werewolves do not use wood to kill vampires,

nor mention it as an option.

Regarding point 90, I wonder if “Free Willy” is infringing on “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” because it doesn’t have a character named Captain Bly who wants to kill Willy, who is not named “Moby,” and neither did “The Incredible Mr. Limpet,” but both have whales. If this sort of thing is held up to be infringement, WhiteWolf will essentially get away with saying “If it wasn’t in ‘Dracula,’ but it’s about vampires, it’s infringing our copyright.”

Anyhow, all the links you need are pretty much found on the metafilter thread about the story. I’m only linking to it to have an excuse to try out my “Incredible Mr. Limpet” analogy.

Comments are closed.

© Michael Hall, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.