Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Son's Character Impersonation

Dear Rich: My son and his friends are big fans of a certain movie and have transformed his car to look somewhat like the movie car (including the logo on the side), have duplicated the weapons, play the theme music over his car stereo, and have made costumes to match those in the movie (also with the movie's logo patch). They also have a short acting skit they go through similar to what the movie characters might do. For now they just do this for fun, but several people have asked them to perform in character at parties, video game stores, and Halloween haunted houses. How much of this would be allowable if they were to charge for their appearances?  There's a thin line between licensed characters and reality and we're concerned that your son may have crossed over. As for your question ...  the short answer is that your son's potential public performance will probably infringe copyrights and trademarks. And since your son is old enough to drive a car, he is probably old enough to receive a summons. (Yes, superheroes can be arrested.)  As always, the Dear Rich Staff is not sure how likely it is that your son will get hassled: the owner would have to (1) learn about your son and (2) care enough to get lawyered up. (Photo shows the Dear Rich staff with Tigger -- we think!)