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Felix The Cat Public Domain

posted by TheBigGuns on - last edited - Viewed by 2.8K users

Can anyone tell me if all the original felix the cat cartoons are in public domain. Want to make a dark animated series of it.

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  • I'm not confident that Felix the Cat is in the public domain, at least in the sense that you're looking at. Even with some of his films being old enough, there is a company out there who owns a trademark on his name and likeness, so even if you were able to claim fair use to make a short file, you wouldn't be able to sell it on a dvd, for instance.

  • Sadly, because lawmakers are in the pockets of business, the public domain (in the sense of new things being added to it) has gone away and will never return. They just keep extending the already unreasonable amount of time; I suppose it's only a matter of time before they go ahead and say "forever" just to save the trouble. It's damn sad when the original intention of copyright was to create a balance, so that creators had a fair chance to profit off of their creations, and then the property would enter the public domain, as the sharing, altering, and passing around of stories, characters and other works has always been a crucial part of human culture. Fortunately, people will keep doing these things anyway; it just sucks that they'll get treated as criminals for it.

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    Profanity BANNED

    You could still publish it just by dropping it into the internet without stating your name, announcing it as an official project and taking credit as a legit person.

    While it still would get taken down in most of the places, if it's any good, it would also spread around and reach people.

  • @LuigiHann said: I'm not confident that Felix the Cat is in the public domain, at least in the sense that you're looking at. Even with some of his films being old enough, there is a company out there who owns a trademark on his name and likeness, so even if you were able to claim fair use to make a short file, you wouldn't be able to sell it on a dvd, for instance.

    This doesn't match his 1923 likeness http://archive.org/details/FelixTheCat-FelixGoesA-huntin1923
    FELIX THE CAT is trademarked
    Is felix trademarked?

  • @tim333 said: Sadly, because lawmakers are in the pockets of business, the public domain (in the sense of new things being added to it) has gone away and will never return. They just keep extending the already unreasonable amount of time; I suppose it's only a matter of time before they go ahead and say "forever" just to save the trouble. It's damn sad when the original intention of copyright was to create a balance, so that creators had a fair chance to profit off of their creations, and then the property would enter the public domain, as the sharing, altering, and passing around of stories, characters and other works has always been a crucial part of human culture. Fortunately, people will keep doing these things anyway; it just sucks that they'll get treated as criminals for it.

    The opposite is true their has been a boom in creative commons and CC0 public domain license. Not to mention the free and open source software market.

  • Is this at all related to the game you wanted to make in a previous thread?

    Felix the Cat the Anime the Game sounds awesome.

  • OK, let's look at this another way.

    The reason why you use an existing character is that the audience should already know and be somewhat familiar with the character. That's why Marvel keeps putting out superhero movies featuring characters the audience has seen before, versus inventing a new superhero for each story.

    When you're using very old characters that presumably nobody cares enough about to prevent you from using, there's also going to be a significant percentage of the audience who don't know much about the characters. Which means you're either producing for a niche audience who does know (or is committed enough to do the research), or you have to spend a lot of extra time showing what these characters are all about.

    If you're going to go into character development that much, you might as well invent your own characters. You can even say "Inspired by Felix The Cat" without getting into much trouble. Telltale has said that Puzzle Agent is "Inspired by Professor Layton," and I haven't heard of them getting sued over it.

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    Jennifer Moderator

    @TheBigGuns said: This doesn't match his 1923 likeness http://archive.org/details/FelixTheCat-FelixGoesA-huntin1923
    FELIX THE CAT is trademarked
    Is felix trademarked?


    Definitely be expected to be sent a legal notice by the Felix the Cat trademark holder if your cartoon becomes well known, since I'm positive they would want to protect their trademark (unlike copyright, you can lose a trademark if you don't enforce it). If you're not prepared for a legal battle, don't use trademarked characters in any way. If you are prepared, do everything you can do to use any trademark as little as possible.

    Trademark on characters whose first appearance is in the public domain is a tricky thing, since it's never really been tried in the court of law, as far as I know. There was a case with someone selling public domain Mickey Mouse comic, but that case is not the same since Mickey Mouse's first appearance is copyrighted.

    As you said, the appearance of Felix in the trademark is different than his first appearance. If you want to go through with this, make sure you stay as close as possible to his first appearance, and don't take any liberties, since these can be used against you since you're supposed to be basing him on a public domain cartoon. Make strict notice in your credits that the cartoon is based on the public domain Felix cartoon (and mention it specifically, as well as any other public domain cartoons which have items or side characters you are using which aren't in Felix's first appearance). Credit the original creator, but don't include any copyright notices for the original cartoon, since it's no longer in copyright. Most importantly, don't use anything in your portrayal of the character that came from non-public domain cartoons.

    Felix is not a trademarkable name (since it's a common name), so you should be OK to call him Felix in the cartoon itself (never call him Felix the Cat though, even in credits). Take a note from the Mickey Mouse comics case and don't use any form of Felix the Cat (not even the name Felix) in the title. Don't even use the image of Felix in the title card or the packaging (if you ever do make a print, or even a mock-up).

    I have to state again though, that even if you follow all my advice you will have to go through legal action over this if it becomes well known, since by the very nature of trademark law, trademarks have to be enforced or they will be lost. If you aren't prepared for legal battles, absolutely do not use any trademarked characters in your cartoons.

  • @Scnew said: Is this at all related to the game you wanted to make in a previous thread?

    Felix the Cat the Anime the Game sounds awesome.

    That is a different project we currently have 40 different characters for that game http://ghostwriternext.deviantart.com/favourites/54687734
    Here is the work in process demo https://github.com/jubilee145/APFG

  • Well, may I suggest you work on finishing the game before starting a new project. Trust me, bouncing between different projects just magnifies the chances of you burning out and never finishing either.

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