Columbus, OH asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Ohio

Q: I am writing a dark-retelling of beauty and the beast. If I have a similar character named Gaston, is there copyright?

His looks are pretty similar, slightly different. He has a completely original backstory, different motivations for going after Belle, and a different death than he does in the movie.

3 Lawyer Answers
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta
Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Mesa, AZ

A: Maybe, it depends.

You need to consult with an attorney before you get into any trouble.

Andrew Popp
Andrew Popp
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Ravenna, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Beauty and the Beast was a french fairy tale from the 1700's. That story is in the public domain. If you stray too close to Disney's version, you may have issues. Ultimately, the question is too complex for this forum. As Mr. Garciacosta suggested, an attorney who focuses his or her practice on intellectual property will be able to provide you more guidance once he analyzes your work.

Matthew Williams
Matthew Williams
Answered
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: Disney owns the naming rights to most of its characters and has a reputation for being vigilant and aggressive. If the story and Gaston are recognizable, you could easily run afoul of Disney lawyers. Is the book a private for profit work or more of a fan fiction thing? You are much less likely to run into trouble in the fan fiction arena, which publish generally think of as non-competitive. If you are trying to hit the NYT Bestseller list, you are much more likely to draw their attention.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.