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View Full Version : Using Copywrited Material in a Haunted House



NateTheGreat
06-22-2009, 04:39 PM
Does anyone know if its possible to use Freddy K. and the Jigsaw's Puppet, Billy (in Saw) in my haunts? Is this covered in the fair use rule? I have a great mask and props of each of these but i'm wondering if i need permission to use these from the makers?

~Natethegreat
www.Fearoverload.com

RJ Productions
06-22-2009, 06:11 PM
In one word...YES!

Think of it this way, if it's been in a book, magazine or movie it's copyrighted!
Sure you can put it in your haunt, and some people do. However, the movie production company, writer, director and probably a list of others has to right to sue you for infringement and they will win, period.

I have NEVER used a licensed character and feel haunts shouldn't for two reasons...

First with the exception of a very limited few, you wil never do justice to the on screen images. They have thousands of dollars t create that scenec, you have hundreds. Anyone seeing it a haunt will make comments like, "that doesn't look anything like the movie".

Second, it's just as easy to create your own unique characters and story lines. This way it's more creative, original and you don't have to worry about anyone permission. Your audience also gets a new and unique experience that they can ONLY get at your attraction.

IF they want to see Freddy, go to a movie or rent the video. But if you want to see the story what happened to Mortimer and Dr. Vander at Meadview Asylum...you'll have to go to my haunt!

Besides you can have fun with it! We had the Asylum and wanted a second attraction. So I wrote a whole story tying the two attractions together with a common thread. So now I have people go to the Asylum and then want to go to Hotel Fear to see the rest of the story!

Just go to the web site http://www.lasvegashaunts.com/
Click on either the Asylum or Hotel Fear
On the top of each of the pages you see an icon "Listen to the story of the Asylum (or Hotel Fear)" I had a voice actor record the story of each.

Sure it took a little longer than throwing a freddy mask on someone, but the results are worth the effort.

freak 'n' stein
06-22-2009, 10:30 PM
I think there are also factors that play into like are you trying to market your haunt as "Freddy vs. Jason" or "Saw"?

For example, the guy who did the haunted attraction based after the Saw movie franchise recreated the attraction based after the films and used characters and traps from the movies. It was marketed AS the Saw attraction and he obtained permission from Lions Gate and was licensed the use of materials for his haunt.

If you are just using a store bought mask for one of your characters to do a quick pop out scare or something of that nature, it is still not yours to use without permission to make a profit from, however, a lot of lower budget haunts do it regardless.

Same rules apply for music and the sort, so the best rule of thumb is: GO ORIGINAL OR GET A LICENSE.

shawnc
06-23-2009, 04:41 AM
Nate,

I had never even heard of the "Fair Use Rule" and thought it sounded like an urban legend. Turns out there is such a thing but your use would be far from fair and would be illegal.

Using a character others have spent millions to make popular so you can make money from it is not fair. That's the way the creators and the courts would see it.

This same subject has been brought up many times, and some have said they just did it, assuming the studios would never seek them out. But just the other day there was some news about the recording industry going after those who are stealing music. So you never know.

Shawn

Nightgore
06-23-2009, 07:14 AM
I agree with Rich 110%... If I see a haunt using "movie characters", I instantly want a refund because to me it's the biggest lack of creativity you could ever see. ANYONE can go get those masks... it's just a quick fix for laziness!

BE ORIGINAL!!! -Tyler

BruiseMuse
06-23-2009, 10:23 AM
Avoid using trademarked characters, it will really only cause more harm to your reputation as lacking creativity. It also doesn't provide a "realistic" experience to patrons in the way that a creative story full of unique characters can. Even if you buy the mask and costume of a movie character, the actor will never do the role in the exact way as the movie (and it will lead to fun comments like "I thought Jason was taller" or "why does Freddy look like a kid?").

Use movies as a source of inspiration, but do not copy them. Create your own psychotic killer with his own unique makeup/mask and costume.

Gahaunter
06-23-2009, 10:32 AM
Hmmm.... I'm on the fence about this. I've seen both used to great effect and very poorly. Depends on the haunt.

Out of creativity and originality you get some really awesome designs. Look at Netherworld and The Scarehouse for some awesome Icon characters. Some of their designs could be straight out of a horror movie set. Most of these I prefer. Not everyone can produce these kinds of results, though. Not everyone has their skill level. The fact remains, it is cheaper to produce original characters that no one has seen before, therefore they have nothing to compare it to.

Back to the question. Can you use copyrighted material? Short answer: It is a violation of copyright law to use movie characters. Unfortuantely, the public at large likes them and pays money to see them or the movies wouldn't be so popular. It's certainly a catch-22. The studios make killer moolah of licensing cheap and crappy-looking versions of their famous characters costumes and masks for Halloween.

Does that allow us to use them in our haunts? Not, really. If you are profiting off their intellectual property it is a copyright violation. Will you get caught? Probably not unless you feature them in your high profile advertsing or name one of your attractions after them. That doesn't mean it can't happen, nor, am I endorsing you do it. You run the same risk if you use unlicensed music. But it is a risk, nonetheless. Ask yourself, can I afford to get sued?

Our industry, however, is not know for adhearing to strict rules regarding copyright usage. We seem to have a large "grey area" when it comes to copyrights. Search through the older threads on haunts showing popular movies in their lobby for que line entertainment. Go back and look at how many people don't pay rights for that either and have no qualms about using them. Same scenario, different circumstances.

Conversely, I don't know that I'd go so far as to suggest that 13th Gate or Rocky Point suffered from "laziness" or "the biggest lack of creativity you could ever see". Both have been voted as top haunts in their time by their peers and customers. Both have used movie characters at some point with fantastic looking results.

I think in the end it all comes down to any haunts production values. If its a cheap black walls, Kmart sort of haunt, then that awful Freddy K. costume you bought from Party City will look like what it is: cheap and uninspired!

Nightgore
06-23-2009, 04:10 PM
Rocky Point... 13th Gate... Universal Studios... it doesn't matter, still lazy! Just my opinion and I'm sticking to it! -Tyler

Badger
06-23-2009, 05:20 PM
Last year we began using 'specialty (s)characters in our haunt in the hope that over time people will recognize the characters as our own. We have NEVER used any movie characters and agree that it's better to create your own.

Last year I went to a haunt that had great sets, props, animatronics, and others. I turned around in one room and was confronted by a 5-foot tall person in a Freddy Krueger mask. Spoiled the rest of the haunt for me...

Gahaunter
06-23-2009, 05:26 PM
Tyler,

Lazy, really?!? Geez.... That seems a little harsh don't you think? If those guys are lazy then I'd hate to see what you consider, diligently working. These haunters have worked hard busting their tails to make into the nation's best haunts. I think they've worked hard enough and don't see anything lazy about them. I'm sure they are laughing all the way to the bank.

As I seem to recall, weren't YOU working on a SAW knockoff house a couple of years ago? Something with "Game" in the title? I seem to remember you posting on the boards about it. Matter of fact, I know you made a wav file and posted a link online that seemed to mimic the Jigsaw killer's V.O about "playing a game" and having" five minutes to make it out". I still have it floating around here on my pc. I thought it was pretty decent.

Why the sudden 180? Just makes you seem a bit hypocritical. I'm not trying to hate on you. You seem to have taken such a staunch stand on an issue you seemed to think differently about not too very long ago. Of course, everyone's entitled to change their mind....

Me, well I have no opinion one way or another. I'm just saying that the use: for/against, is all in the execution. In the examples we sited i.e. Universal, 13th Gate, and Rocky Point have had great production values. It can go way on the other side as well. I've seen local haunts who have used those same characters and it made them look unoriginal to their guests and cheapend their show quality becuase they used off the shelf costumes and did not theme their sets.

Lee

Gahaunter

Nightgore
06-23-2009, 08:44 PM
I've done no 180... If an ENTIRE attraction is centered around a movie with the looks, feel and theme as the movie... for example: the saw haunt. The entire haunt is played off the movie.

But what I'm saying here is that when a haunt mixes the two or has "movie characters" sparingly through the haunt and they are "just there". That's lazy.

Now, don't even bring up that this is what Universal did with their haunts totally themed and dedicated to the movies. Universal has year after year produced brand new, unique icon characters... stories... haunts... etc. etc. Then all of sudden does an entire event based on movies? WTF! Talk about taking the year off!

LAZY!!! -Tyler

NateTheGreat
06-23-2009, 09:16 PM
That is also what Gyro's (California) kinda did last year and it was actually quite good and professional. I was just talking about the legality of it and i think i found my answer. Anything can be made very good (and very bad too) =)

~Natethegreat
www.Fearoverload.com

freak 'n' stein
06-23-2009, 09:47 PM
Now, don't even bring up that this is what Universal did with their haunts totally themed and dedicated to the movies. Universal has year after year produced brand new, unique icon characters... stories... haunts... etc. etc. Then all of sudden does an entire event based on movies? WTF! Talk about taking the year off!

LAZY!!! -Tyler

NOT FAIR to throw Universal under the bus. They did, after all, begin the movie monster genre. Frankenstein, Dracula...UNIVERSAL. I agree, they have come up with amazing events and characters, however, because they revert back to what they became FAMOUS for, doesn't mean you should lump them in with other low budget haunts. And LOW BUDGET is what you should refer to haunts that use masks as. I say this because they DON'T have the means to go and drop thousands of dollars on latex or silicone masks and the like.

JamBam
06-23-2009, 10:45 PM
The idea of using movie characters has many pitfalls including the legal infringement on the originals. Most times the haunts cannot live up to the originals.

I have been involved in haunting since 1986 and the industry has changed tremendously. In 1999 we went to the theme of the hotel but still lacked a storyline that was outstanding. Several years ago, we had two very talented guys develop the storyline, complete with the main characters and 302 total options as that is how many perished in the storyline. We can allow our actors to develop their own character as long as it is relelvant to the 1904 time frame we have set.

The beauty of your own story and characters is that the customers do appreciate the effort put into it. If you want to check out our website, it has an awesome opening video and many details of the story.

Allen H
06-23-2009, 11:27 PM
Freak?
"And LOW BUDGET is what you should refer to haunts that use masks as."
Freak what kind of masks are you referring to? If not latex or silicone? Lots of shows use latex masks and a blend of latex ,silicone ,and Make up is In my opinion the best way to go. Latex masks are a great option for costuming depending on the character you are trying to portray.
I suppose I should not bristle to much, I suppose that "The Trail of Terror" (my show) is a low budget show, but the park Im director (SCREAMS) of is not a low budget show. Both use masks and make up.
Allen H

the ogre
06-23-2009, 11:28 PM
Ok here is my 2 sense and know that I am new here and a mere pion in the haunt industry being just a haunter. As i read all the arguements i see how using movie characters can take away from the haunt and me playing the part of a movie character you have opened my eyes to convince my boss to let me incorporate my character who ive spent 2 yrs developing and never jad the balls to use until now BUT! At my haunt we have completely detailed to the max sets devoted to Jason, myers and leatherface. On the hayride we have a huge camp crystal lake equiped with cabins bunks, tool shed and campers. Fllowed by a huge movie quality meat house with pigs squeals and meat hooks the hole 9 then an isane asylum haunted by. You guessed it myers! Now I no what your thinking how lame but our actors make it all worth it. Our Jason is 7ft tall 340lbs myers is 6'3 250lbs and I play leatherface 6ft1 300lbs. None or our costumes are NOT store bought all custom made to fit and the mask are molded, sculpted and custom painted by our creative directer who operates the grave yard prop shop all with his own twist. I think it's great that we use this but I would love to do my own thing. Everyone has there own opinion and there all valid. If it were up to me movie characters would stay imortalized where the belong on the silver screen but hey nobody is perfect. Sorry for the rant ladies and gents

freak 'n' stein
06-24-2009, 02:36 AM
Freak?
"And LOW BUDGET is what you should refer to haunts that use masks as."
Freak what kind of masks are you referring to? If not latex or silicone? Lots of shows use latex masks and a blend of latex ,silicone ,and Make up is In my opinion the best way to go. Latex masks are a great option for costuming depending on the character you are trying to portray.
I suppose I should not bristle to much, I suppose that "The Trail of Terror" (my show) is a low budget show, but the park Im director (SCREAMS) of is not a low budget show. Both use masks and make up.
Allen H

I apologize for not elaborating. I assumed it was implied by "masks" that I meant store bought masks from stores such as Walmart and the like; masks that have been licensed to the stores and are reproduced in an inexpensive, lower quality way. By no means am I referring to masks brought to the industry by big budget fx companies with hundred dollar products.

And second, I disagree with the fact people are saying no one will "live up to the characters". I don't believe most haunt TRY to live up to a mirror image of the characters UNLESS that is a theme of your haunt. If you decided to throw one of your characters in a completely random room with a freddy mask for a quick "boo" scare, then you are obviously not TRYING to live up to A Nightmare on Elm Street, HOWEVER, if you are marketing your haunt as such and you have the rooms, props and characters, THEN it would be fair to say most haunters don't live up to the original characters. But like I said...most haunters who use the "inexpensive walmart masks" aren't trying to convince everyone they are at Camp Crystal Lake with Jason Vorhees breathing down their necks. Just Sayin

NateTheGreat
06-24-2009, 02:40 AM
I agree that if characters from movies, etc are to be used, they need to be done right, not in a "cheap scare" fashion....and they can actually be very good if the "scene is set" correctly.

~Natethegreat
www.Fearoverload.com

DeadManWalking
06-25-2009, 09:53 PM
Rocky Point... 13th Gate... Universal Studios... it doesn't matter, still lazy! Just my opinion and I'm sticking to it! -Tyler

If you had ever walked through Rocky Point you wouldn't be saying this. Their bone room for the TCM section was designed and dressed by the man that did it for the movie and the Pirates of the Scare-ibbean section rivaled any set Johnny Depp ever stepped foot on.

Gahaunter
06-26-2009, 08:37 AM
Well Universal has just announced their line-up for HHN this year:

drumroll...

Saw (which everyone knew), Chucky (Child's Play), and The Wolfman. The theme is Ripped from the Silver Screen.

Not sure how they are going to make Chucky scary, but we'll see.

Gahaunter

Nightgore
06-26-2009, 09:15 AM
Sad... :( -Tyler

PS: For anyone who hasn't been to HHN... it's not scary, not at all. The sets are AWESOME, the designs are WAY cool, but actors SUCK and it's not scary. Maybe to the GP, but I didn't think it was scary at all.

freak 'n' stein
06-26-2009, 11:42 PM
Well Universal has just announced their line-up for HHN this year:

drumroll...

Saw (which everyone knew), Chucky (Child's Play), and The Wolfman. The theme is Ripped from the Silver Screen.

Not sure how they are going to make Chucky scary, but we'll see.

Gahaunter

FREAKIN AWESOME!!! That's what I'm talking about. They put SOOOO much work into developing original stuff every year. They'll do everyone of those themes justice...I'd put money on it.

If anyone goes, which I'm sure SOMEONE on here will, let me know how it is!! I want to TRY and go this year, but I don't know if it will happen.

phrase
08-12-2009, 07:52 PM
How can you have any kind of continuity if you have someone else's character? I don't understand how an iconic character can just "fit in" Unless you have the most sinister character ever conceived how could any of the major villains fit into just one scene? At first we just ran with the simple idea that the land was haunted. After a few years we came up with our own icon whose spirit infected the land with his foul spirit, and drew evil to the area.

Jim Warfield
08-13-2009, 03:46 AM
About the hideous massacre and blood play in the costume aisle at Wal-Mart then everyone will be rushing to buy those el-cheap-o masks ..because then they will be considered So Scary!
A former employee (an" Associate") remained successfully hidden in the costume rack, striking out randomly , killing countless customers quietly for days and nights on end, hiding the body parts by hanging them from the ceiling where almost nobody would notice them.
His blazer said on it:"How may I kill you?"
There.
See?
I just provided a storyline to make those cheap Wally-world masks scary for any haunt to be able to use, all you have to do is tell the story first. I know, telling a story takes time, and telling a story well takes talent...just like everything else in this life.

Did the Baby mask in the movie "Brazil" scare any of you? Remember it? The lunatic torturer wore it as his victim was strapped in a chair, this made that mask scary for me.
We learn it or have to be taught it..fear and just what to fear.

The Doctor
08-13-2009, 08:27 AM
MORAL: Copyright....everyone has their own take on this, many will not steal an image from a fellow haunted house but their IPod, and PC are full of copyrighted material downloaded from the internet. Some will not steal and anything they consider art worthy ie; music, pictures, and such...but computer programs are made by mean nasty corporate giants and using there stuff is ok.

LEGAL: So there is the legal question of copyrighted material...if money is involved you can bet that the owner of the copyright will see it as an infringement...if it takes away from their brand...infringement. In fact to keep their brand they will always go after infringement and will file on almost any use of their material, to not do so jeopardizes their copyright.

I would also be willing to bet that all of us got our start in a haunt with an iconic character in it, maybe some black plastic, strobes everywhere, Halloween theme playing in the background over dad's speakers...when did we get so damn elite that we cant take some enjoyment at the...yes not professional...yes not even home haunter...but the regular ole joe or kid that is just trying to add a little fun to his or her neighborhood or town.

To finish, legally no its not legal, morally...that is a bit more gray and depends on who you ask, artistically...again depends on who you ask and how you do it. But back in the 80's I had alot of fun with those iconic characters, nothing beat 2lbs of flour, water and oil applied directly to the face with food color to make it look burnt...waaalaaa my Freddy Krueger, downside was the dyed face from red food color.

In the end you have to decide what kind of haunt you want to be and how you can best entertain your customers...in the end that is the only question that really matters.