Do Online Video Mashups of Marvel Comics’ Characters Fall Under Fair Use? Stan Lee Talks!

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I asked Marvel Comics creator icon Stan “The Man” Lee, what does he think about others making videos with Marvel characters and posting them online for their own business or amateur ventures? Read the exchange and find out – KA-POW!

For the uninitiated, Stan Lee is best known as the man whose super heroes propelled Marvel to its position in the comic book industry. His co-creations include Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange. Now the chairman emeritus of Marvel Media, Lee creates new intellectual property for Pow Entertainment, which has been in operation since 2001.

NAB Show Moderator Chris Hardwick with Marvel Comics creator Stan lee

I caught up with Stan at The NAB Show, the annual conference and expo for professionals who create, manage and distribute entertainment across all platforms. Stan was the keynote speaker for the 2nd day of the show, on a session moderated by comedian and G4 technology correspondent and commentator, Chris Hardwick of “Web Soup” and “Attack of the Show,” titled “In Conversation with Stan Lee.”

My Question for Stan “the Man” Lee

Now because my editor says that the video clip is too “crappy” to be considered “professional video” and appropriate for showing on this site (an unfortunate circumstance since I had to settle for a dinky Kodak Zi8 and a volunteer with a very shaky hand and a lack of direction,) I’ve provided the full transcript of my Q&A with Mr. Lee. (But if you don’t mind a shaky picture and some nifty b-roll footage in place of actually seeing Mr. Lee on video, check out my video at the bottom of this post..

Grant: I have an intellectual property question, about video remixes and mashups: There are a lot of videos on YouTube with Marvel characters on there, and some are just amateur creations, and others could be making a little bit of money off the popularity of those videos from the overlay advertising. What is your position on people taking Marvel’s creative content and repurposing it into their own videos online?

Chris Hardwick: Here’s a perfect example of what Grant is talking about: There’s this cool video on YouTube where they made “Marvel Zombies” — where they made Marvel super heroes as zombies, and they shot it on film, and it was great. So Grant’s saying that if someone makes a film and they repurpose it with characters they don’t own (like Marvel characters), and benefit from advertising on YouTube, what’s your stance on that?

Stan Lee: Oh, so it wasn’t the Marvel people who were doing that?

Chris Hardwick: No, and the Internet is replete with stuff like that.

Stan Lee:

Well, then my only attitude there is, I’m not a lawyer. It doesn’t bother me, and I figure it helps Marvel, because it’s just more advertising and more promotion; and it will make many people who weren’t interested in Marvel a little bit interested, if they like the Marvel Zombies. So it’s fine with me. But again, I’m not a lawyer! So right now, there may be a whole team of lawyers working on this! I don’t really know.

Chris Hardwick: And is going to use in his defense , “Stan Lee said I could do it!”

Grant Crowell: Yes. I just won’t say it in that kind of voice, but I’ll say it.


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