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Can I put brands on a web comic or even comic?

 
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perroloco



Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject: Can I put brands on a web comic or even comic? Reply with quote

In example lets say the character is playing a Wii/Xbox/ps3 whatever.. or eating in a mcdonald or when using a PC it has the windows theme.. or playing minesweeper (or minecraft lol) or watching videos in youtube or checking facebook..

Could something happen if I included anything like that?
Or would it be better if I just make random stuff like Wwwi/Xcube/Sp3 Wacdonalds Mindoms.. Mineweeper...
I guess you get the point.

Thanks in advance.
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rylearron



Joined: 30 Jun 2011
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on what exactly you're doing. When tv or movies use fake brands it's more a matter of advertising, or really, not wanting to advertise. Think about it this way. If Homer Simpson drank Budweiser instead of Duff it would have some effect on Budweiser sales. While some shows are actually sponcered by certain brands. It could be subtle, like a character driving a Ford car, or completely in your face, like the almost omnipresent coca cola logo on American Idol.

Also the context of what you're doing matters. I make a video game/nerd culture comic, so at times I need to have products like the Xbox, or Wii in my comic, because I'm writing an actual commentary on them. However stuff like the brand of tv or computers used in the comic are never mentioned because really it has no importance to the plot. So feel free to use whatever products you want in order to tell your story, as long as you're not malicious about it you'll be fine.

In your case you're making a webcomic, so you probably don't have a major corporation sponcering you, nor is the spread of your comic so vast that if you had real world products in your comic it would influence actual purchasing trends, so do what you want to do. If you want to make up fake brands for the sake of quirkiness, do that. If you want to casually include real brands to give your comic some ties to the real world, do that, just don't go overboard to the point that it's intrusive, you might potentially alienate a part of the audience in doing so.
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Bill Murphy



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rylearron,
You make very good points. I chose to avoid any product placements in my comic out of concern for being told later that some comics need to be altered to remove certain products or celebrity names. My comic is not about pop culture or trends, so I avoid anything that someone may read five years from now and think "Oh yeah... I remember when that was a thing".
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perroloco



Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read somewhere in a manga Hikaru No Go that the author once drew the character drinking some random beverage.. The next week the company that makes the beverage send the author like a lot of that drink haha..

I get the point, I will just make fake brands for the sake of not getting sued or things like that.
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Bill Murphy



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I created my own font for my comic.

I got in touch with a company that created a font that I wanted to use with my comic. They said no charge to use their font for web publishing and book printing. Then I followed with the fact that I was thinking of creating my comic for sale as a PDF. Then they said that will require additional costs based on distribution, tax and an anual minimum cost of $500 a year. So I decided to just create my own font and not be bound by a yearly situation based on current technology.

If you are concerned about copyrite, I just wanted to add this as "Food for thought".


Last edited by Bill Murphy on Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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wendyw
The Bomb-diggity


Joined: 10 Jul 2008
Posts: 4118
Location: North-East England

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally unless your suggesting that their products are rubbish or the corporate activities corrupt you'll be fine. Even then Megatokyo, which has been published by Dark Horse and an imprint of DC, has working for Sony and Sega (or had - I haven't read it for a while) rival mercenaries (both shown as willing to kill or blow up busy public places to reach their goals) and to my knowledge there's never been any problems with that.

There are definite advantages to using the names of real brands. Dropping the name of a real car brand or model for example will give the reader a better idea of things like economic status and tastes than a made up one without having to go into exposition mode. Different makes of car, different news channels, newspapers, brands of beer, electronics firms and so on have different connotations that come with them and you lose all that when you use fictional versions instead.

That said fictional brands can work fine, though the example names you gave come across very much as comedy names, which are all fine and dandy if that's what you're going for, but once you've established those brands you might find yourself stuck with them to some extent and you really want to make sure that you're not going to end up regretting the name.

Good fictional names (much like stores' own budget brands) are often ones that feel right for the industry or product, but don't sound like they're trying to be an actual brand. For a good store own brand example, Currys (UK electrical chain) introduced a brand called Matsui. They used a Japanese name, because the big electronics firms they were trying to rival were all Japanese and it worked pretty damn well. For a good genuine sounding fictional examples we have Oceanic Airlines and Morley Cigarettes used by various production companies for years and years.

Bill Murphy wrote:

If you are concerned about copywrite, I just wanted to add this as "Food for thought".


Wrong spelling of right I'm afraid. It's a legal right, not something that is written. Also when it comes to using brands as apposed to designs you're talking trademarks not copyrights.
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rylearron



Joined: 30 Jun 2011
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah the MegaTokyo thing with Sony and Sega is fine cause it's parody with is legal under fair use laws. The Scary Movie and the Insert Genre Here Movie franchises couldn't exist without such laws.

Weird Al for example, every time he makes a parody song he contacts the original songwriter as a professional courtesy, even though legally he doesn't have to. Back in the day there was a little curfuffle between Coolio and Weird Al over Amish Paradise, a parody of Gangsta's Paradise. Legend goes Al believed he had Coolio's blessing, but when the song came out Coolio was a little annoyed to say the least, but legally there was nothing he could do.

To use another webcomic example, Awkward Zombie, a game centric comic in which 95% of the comic have no original characters, instead mostly use license Nintendo characters. Resently they published a volume collecting the first year of comics, without fear of litigation because again the comic falls under the fair use parody.

That is to say fair use parody laws don't have their limits. 8-Bit Theatre, a very popular comic back in the day will likely never publish a printed version of the comic seeing as not only is it a parody of the story and characters of Final Fantasy, but as a sprite comic it uses no original art, which is perfectly fine for a webcomic, but if they ever were to publish a printed copy they'd be infringing a little too much on the intellectual properties of Square-Enix.
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Kail



Joined: 10 Feb 2007
Posts: 424

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Parody is a defense against copyright infringement, not trademark, as far as I know. For a trademark to fall under fair use, you have to be either A) be referring to the product nominatively or B) accurately describing your own product (like if I trademark the phrase "really delicious" for my restaurant, that doesn't mean that nobody else can call their food really delicious, they just can't put the little 'tm' next to it).

I think generally you're fine with calling your XBox an XBox, but trademark law is messy and weird and I'm not really comfortable stating anything with absolute certainty. I know that most major professional studios will avoid using trademarks, so if it's at all possible then I'd say make up your own fictional brands. On the other hand, you can't really do a comic about two guys sitting on a couch playing Halo if your characters can't mention the title, so sometimes you don't really have the choice.
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Bill Murphy



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wendyw wrote:


Bill Murphy wrote:

If you are concerned about copywrite, I just wanted to add this as "Food for thought".


Wrong spelling of right I'm afraid. It's a legal right, not something that is written. Also when it comes to using brands as apposed to designs you're talking trademarks not copyrights.


Thanks Wendy! The spelling error has been corrected. Smile

The company that created and owns the font said that digital sales such as ebooks require the font's file to be imbeded into the ebook. That would mean that if I sold an ebook using their font, then I would be selling their font. They group all digital formats in the same category when it comes to their licensing agreement.

So I stayed away since this was going to be a yearly user's licence agreement.
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