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Dynamike
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I was thinking about adding cartoon characters to my act, (Barney, Dora, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, etc.) Does anyone know where to purchase those outfits?
Gerry Walkowski
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Do as you please but just so you know, the big boys will come looking for you in violation of their copyrights. And, they don't even care if you call their characters by another name.

Ethically, I just don't think you should go this route.
Dynamike
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I am confident in doing it. There are entertainment companies who have been doing it in my area for plenty of years. Yes they use different names on paper and over the phone. Another reason the entertainment companies and makers do not get in trouble is because the costumes are not 100% identical to the original. It is legal if you play the cards right.

Check out this website:
http://www.abcmagicentertainment.com/ind......temid=54
RJE
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Mike,

You really are playing with fire here.

The rights to these characters are strictly defined by contracts to specific people in specific geographic areas. If they find out what you are doing, they will sue you.

One of our agents has the rights to many of these characters. In fact, even though she is a Canadian talent agency, her cartoon character rights extend into the USA and she has done numerous children's events at the White House for your president. I can tell you that she would definitely take you for everything you own if she found you p***ing in her yard.

Just because others are doing it, doesn't make it right. I would suggest that you rethink this.
TRUMPETMAN
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If you are determined to add costume characters, contact Phillip Morris in North Carolina. He is the best character costume maker in the business, and has a huge costume facility. Many of the professional touring shows of note use his costumes, and have for years.

He might be able to help you navigate this road without stepping into legal trouble by choosing a costume that would not be infriging on someone else's copyrights.

I strongly urge you to do this the right way....

Mark
Mark Pettey
Naples, FL
facebook.com/robbietheringmaster
The Magic Ref
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What about if you use a prop or a costume that has been made by the original company like Disney or something? If you buy the costume in a Disney store, can they stop you from using it in a performance or sue you for doing so?
Be Young...Have Fun!
ralphdean
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I am not a lawyer, and I stay away from TV, but there was a case involving Ebay a number of years ago.

Someone was buying cloth with authentic Disney patterns on it from a fabric store and making clothes and selling them on Ebay. The wrath of Disney came down on them. They did not think this was fair. They were using authentic fabric. Disney was being mean and these people were too dumb to let it be. They hired a lawyer, spent lots of money, and won. Since they were using authentic Disney fabric, they were ok.

Then they got a letter from a lawyer for the NFL. Seems they were selling clothes made from authentic NFL fabric from the NFL. Their lawyer was very busy.
Matthew W
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If you have a LICENSED costume (not a halloween costume, or 'deluxe' costume) and the license says it can be rented you are fine.

If it looks like a character that is any bit recognizable, there can be problems. Changing the name or color is often not going to be enough. Yes there are others doing it, but they are taking the same chances that you will be. "Cheese Bob" is not "Cheese Bob" to kids and other party guests (and the copyright owners know that), especially when Gary and Patrick are on the napkins and plates.

It is just not worth it in my eyes.
-Matt
Jay Ward
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I am certainly no lawyer, but as Matt was saying I don't think buying a licensed costume gives you permission to rent it out. I would definitely look into the fine print. I know that the Barney folk really went after the Purple Dinosaur costumes. I use to work in a costume rental shop, and the owner wouldn't go near that costume.
That being said, Dynamike, there are certainly a lot of businesses in my area that rent Elmo, Dora, Spiderman, Lightning McQueen (ridiculous costume if you haven't seen it). Be careful!
Dynamike
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First of all I want to thank those giving me comments about the law. It is like a hobby to me. I am also a member on a different website forum dealing with law. I know what you guys are saying, and I agree with most of you, I will read all the fine print.

Secondly, I want to thank Mark for giving me the name of the builder. I did a search and found a lawsuit dealing with a 1991 case concerning Phillip and Morris making "Barney.": http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/getcase/4th/case/992255P&exact=1

Here is how the case ended:

After a four-day bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendants on all claims. In a detailed opinion, in which the court made 240 separately numbered findings of fact and conclu- sions of law, the court concluded that the NDC and Hillary costumes infringed Lyons' copyrights and trademarks. The court, however, denied Lyons a remedy because it found that the claims with respect to the NDC and Hillary costumes were barred by the applicable stat- utes of limitations and by the doctrine of laches. The court held that the four-year lapse between the time when Lyons first became aware of Morris' acts of infringement and the commencement date of the lawsuit was "inexcusable." On the claims relating to the Duffy the Dragon costume, the court found that the evidence was inadequate to show that Duffy was substantially similar to or likely to cause confu- sion with the Barney character. In reaching this conclusion, the court disregarded as hearsay the first-hand accounts of adults about children who believed that Duffy was in fact Barney and over 30 newspaper articles evidencing actual confusion between Duffy and Barney. On Lyons' state law unfair trade practices claim, the court again found in favor of the defendants because the "infringing activities were not undertaken with the intent that the public would be deceived as to the true origin of the costumes." Finally, the court found that the action against Amy Morris Smith was in bad faith because of her minimal involvement and the untimeliness of claims against her, and, on that basis, ordered Lyons to pay her attorneys fees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MORRIS COSTUMES, INCORPORATED won the court case. Check out the last sentence. Morris ordered Lyons to pay her attorney fees.

I will find out what the law is and stick with it dealing with the costumes. Thanks for watching my back, guys.
Stevethomas
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There's a difference between renting a costume of a licensed character or facsimile thereof for your own personal use (ie: entertaining at your daughter's birthday party) and having/buying/renting a costume to make money yourself. It's like buying a DVD. Having it and watching it is fine. Renting it out to someone else gets the guys in suits paying you a visit, and I don't mean the Italian guys. If Disney or Nickelodeon or Marvel or DC or whomever owns the rights to that character or someone who looks strangely like you knockoff costume, they want their cut of the money.

Even balloon artists have gotten in trouble for calling their creations by the original character's name. And, don't think you have to be working in Orlando to get into trouble, you would be surprised where you'll find these guys.

Think of the mom and pop stores who have a radio playing, and one day a guy from ASCAP or BMI happens to stop by, wondering why they don't have the correct licensing to have music playing in their store (usually shown by a decal on the front door)...they have to turn it off or pay up. Everybody wants their cut.

Dynamike, supposing there was a new magician in your town calling himself Dynamite Mikey and had seen your shows and was performing exactly the same effects, only slightly differently. Dressed like you (just a little differently), same hairstyle (only slightly different) and played the same music during his show. Wouldn't you be a little ticked off?

Steve
Skip Way
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During the Barney hayday in the early 90's, I contacted Lyon Group and asked about leasing or purchasing a licensed costume for a specific region. I was prepared to invest several thousands of dollars and was approaching it as a legit business. Instead of a polite "We don't offer this license" I received a series of blistering and extremely rude letters and telephone calls from Lyons Group attorneys threatening immediate legal action if I proceeded with my efforts to procure and use a Barney costume or clone in any manner. These fools are not people to be trifled with.

As for Amy Morris' suit: Keep in mind that they had to pay the attorney's retainer and process fees up front to defend their case and stood a good chance of losing it all and more. Corporations can also delay payment of a judgment indefinitely with appeals and such. Not all of us have the kind of money it takes to fight high-dollar corporate thugs...and they know it.

Since then, I've purchased several original Morris mascot costumes (Mr. Morris is one of the nicest people I've ever met) and created my own cast of characters. Why take chances? Be original.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
JimbosMagic
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Mike
I put together a full theatre touring show about 3 years ago. I had my own characters designed and made. Bilston Bear & Doofus the Dog.
I live in England but had them made in the USA by a company who do a lot of costumes for the NFL teams etc.
They were not cheap at $5000 each but well worth it.
May be you can think along these lines and get a character and brand of your own
JIMMY CARLO. KIDabra International Family Entertainer of the Year 2009.
IBM Triple Award Winner. Uk Champion of Comedy Magic.
Represented the UK in the United Slapstick Awards on German TV.
European Children's Entertainer of the year 2007/8
Dynamike
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Quote:
On 2009-07-14 06:40, Stevethomas wrote:
Dynamike, supposing there was a new magician in your town calling himself Dynamite Mikey and had seen your shows and was performing exactly the same effects, only slightly differently. Dressed like you (just a little differently), same hairstyle (only slightly different) and played the same music during his show. Wouldn't you be a little ticked off?

Steve, no I will not be "a little" ticked off. To be honest, I will be "a lot" ticked off. Smile

Thanks everyone, good lookin'. Smile
Stevethomas
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Would you be slightly less ticked off if they paid you a fee each time they used or mentioned your likeness?

Steve
Dynamike
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It all depends. Maybe I would know the person and they are trying to put good word out about me. Maybe we are partners, and they took over my doubled booked shows. Maybe I would get more calls because my name is advertised more. Maybe it would push me to leave to a different state where I generated more business. So like I said, it all depends.
Stevethomas
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Or, if they were not your friend or partner, you might sue them. Then you'd understand how Disney or the other aforementioned companies feel and why they're concerned with the characters they own and have licensing for.

Steve
rossmacrae
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Even if you could be sure of "getting away with it," then what is your act? Say you're Barney - so you walk around singing "I love you, you love me..." a time or two, and what then? You'll have to have parents calm the several kids who are screaming in terror when Barney, who is so cute on TV, walks in for real 6-feet-tall and towering over them, and explain to the unhappy parents that they can't expect their kids to magically start doing little song-and-dance routines like they see on TV.

It's a dead end.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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For a sleight twist...

This morning on Kelly and Regis (or is the other way around)

they featured Celebrity Look alikes....

Aside in my younger days with round glasses..I used to use the line..

I know what you are thinking..he looks a lot like George on Seinfield....

When have you "made it"?
When someones markets a doll or superhero or bubble head of YOU!

Harris..(not a lawyer...but have had a few as clients/consumers. One wanted to just to talk about misdirection for a court case summation...).....
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
JimbosMagic
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At the end of the day Dynamike, You do what ever you want to, if you get caught and fined thousands then no one else is to blame. If you get away with it then so be it. Your gonna do what your gonna do Right or Wrong.
JIMMY CARLO. KIDabra International Family Entertainer of the Year 2009.
IBM Triple Award Winner. Uk Champion of Comedy Magic.
Represented the UK in the United Slapstick Awards on German TV.
European Children's Entertainer of the year 2007/8
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