UPDATED: Intraxx sues Cedar Fair over use of Wicked Twister animation
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2003 4:40 AM | Contributed by Jeff
10/3/2003 9:15:41 AM: According to a story in The Sandusky Register, Intraxx, the company that did the computer animation for Wicked Twister, is suing Cedar Fair for using the animation in TV spots, which they say was outside of the contract's stated use and violates copyright laws. The company says using it on TV caused the quality of the images to be diminished and therefore reflects poorly on Intraxx.
UPDATE 10/9/2003 8:40:40 AM: Intraxx owner Frank Purtiman told the Mansfield News Journal that, "The animation was priced (to Cedar Fair) as a (video) news release. That's what the purchase order and the paperwork said. But they're using it in television advertisements."
"Diminshed quality?" Ha! Intraxx animation sucks and looks like crap anyway. The Intraxx Web site blows (nice 404's!). It's no different from the other work they've done. Furthermore, I have a really hard time believing that the park would order something they didn't own the rights to.
Come on people. Just because you dont like their animations or their website doesnt justify slamming this lawsuit as a fake. These type of scenarios are common. I work in the graphic design profession where I deal with issues like these all the time. When you purchase a licensed artwork you must specify very specifically what the intended use of that artwork will be, and you are bound to use it only as you say you will.
Sometimes people choose to purchase complete and unlimited usage rights to an artwork - this allows them to use the artwork in any application and as many times as they want. The price for purchasing artwork like this is very significant.
Another option is to purchase the artwork with limited usage rights - this type of agreement only allows the purchasing company to use the artwork within the confines of the agreed upon contact. These contracts specify many factors, the medium it can used on, the size it can be used at, the amount of time it can be used for, the intended number of people who will see it, etc... By choosing this option, the company can save a large amount of money.
In it is entirely possible that what Intraxx is saying actually did happen. Cedar Fair may have only chosen to purchase this animation with limited usage rights including the exclusion of usage for TV. And it could all be attributed to a communication issue - that the people producing the TV ad didnt realize the animation wasnt licensed for use in that medium. I think their claim about the lower quality being a poor reflection on them is a little unusual, there is some truth in that statement. The manner of producing an animation for use in a television commercial is substantially different than the for use on the internet.
It all comes down to words on the signed agreement.
------------------ Mac Forever. *** This post was edited by jdancisin 10/3/2003 11:09:50 AM ***
Jeff, That argument is bull, it doesn't matter who copyrighted the original design. I'm sure that when parks buy a coaster it's considered 'fair use' for the parks to use images of that coaster to promote the park, whether those images are photographs, video, artist renderings or 3d animations. The point is an 'artist' (to use the term loosely) created the 3d animation, so the artist has a right to negotiate the usage of the work in his contract. Disney could hire me to do 3-d animation of frickin Mickey Mouse, but they're still bound to use the work only as forth in the contract... even though they own the original character. If Intraxx has a smart contract (which somehow I doubt) this could be a pretty open and shut case. Anyone doing art should know to be clear in the contract as to what rights they are turning over.
------------------ Touchè, teacher, touchè. *** This post was edited by ThemeDesigner 10/3/2003 11:53:11 AM ***
This seems bizarre, if only because this sort of thing should be very clearly stated in the contract. I mean, how could this possibly even be a question? It's like leasing a car but, in the lease, you agree not to drive it anywhere. There shouldn't be much ambiguity over what the animation was to be used for, and it's not like Cedar Fair has never made agreements like this before.
All of that leads me to believe that this is just a company looking to make some money with a lawsuit, because it's just too bizarre. But I suppose it's possible. If the question is as straightforward as it seems, it shouldn't take long to go away (one way or the other).
That argument is bull, it doesn't matter who copyrighted the original design.
OK, then take the plans and have someone other than Intamin build a clone at another one of their parks. If you want to use the rat as an example, ask Mr. Eisner if you can use your drawings of Mr. Mouse for your own purpose.
None of us have seen the contract, but I have a really hard time believing that it explicitly says they couldn't use it on TV. The park has released computer animations to the press now going all the way back to Raptor. I doubt they'd ever agree to such a ridiculous term. Unless you explicitly state otherwise in a contract, creating any creative work while under hire entitles you to exactly no copyright at all.
One additional note... The Register article says it was for use to be released to TV news agencies, but not for use in TV commercials. That's an important distinction, because the basis of the claim is that the quality is different and can damage the reputation of Intraxx. That's the first part of what the article says.
Then it goes on to say that CF did not enter into a second contract to market the ride, and Intraxx therefore says that the images then violate their copyright. This is what the park did do for Millennium Force. The part about the quality then is interesting since the production house that did the marketing promos for MF messed up the quality of that animation on purpose.
Now why is it that Intraxx has decided 18 months after the TV spots aired that they were somehow wronged? That's the first red flag I have. The second is that, to the limited understanding I can gain from the article, the contract only says what the purpose of the images was supposed to be, not who retains the copyright. If I were an IP lawyer (and it's the only bit of law I've ever studied), I would have two issues to address.
Either way, it's a pretty bad way to blacklist yourself in the entire industry by suing one of a handful of potential customers. Remember... every marketing and PR staff in the country talks to each other.
Interesting clarification. I agree about the fishiness of the 'harm to reputation' claim, especially since this little episode will harm their reputation much more than badly reproduced animation. HOWEVER, IF (big if) the contract is clearly in Intraxx's favor then there is definitely a case.
Plus, I don't know how much copyright law you studied, Jeff, but I'd like for you to back up your claim that Intamin would own the copyright of any images produced that were based on one of their rides. I just don't see Parks going to ride designers asking for permission to use images of the park's own coasters in advertising. The rides themselves are copyrighted, certainly, and cannot be reproduced without license, but any IMAGES (again, photographic or artist derived) of the ride are not automatically property of the ride's designer unless the designer specifically retains the rights. Using the Disney example again, if you buy a cel of a Disney character at an auction you have the right to display the cel privately but Disney specifically retains all other right to the characters and any images of the cel, so you can't buy a cel, take a picture of it and claim you have the rights to reproduce that picture wherever you want. I just don't believe that designers would retain these sorts of rights over their creations (else sights like rcdb may have a big suit on their hands someday)
"Now why is it that Intraxx has decided 18 months after the TV spots aired that they were somehow wronged?"
Aren't there statutes of limitations in Ohio? Maybe they're longer than they are here. Then again, maybe they only work with printed material.
Or maybe I really don't know what I'm talking about. I'm not too crazy about Intraxx's animations. I still don't understand why Cedar Fair didn't go with McVeen's work. From what I've seen, he's much better.
------------------ 2003 Raptor Rides: 246 Raptor Rules the Sky!
Any architectural plans generally have a copyright stamped on them, and can certainly be considered a creative work. I'm sure ride plans are no different. I do remember some case law in college where a book publisher was sued for copyright infringement for publishing a photo from an art museum, a large portion of the image containing a painting of theirs on the wall. The museum won the case, and as such makes a case for derivitive work. Wish I knew the case so I could refer back to it.
In the case of Intamin, I doubt very much they'd care one way or another what the park did with the plans as long as they didn't have another manufacturer build the ride, but it's the spirit of the argument I'm after here. I couldn't claim copyright on a work that is derived from another.
I'm sure in the end none of it will matter and it'll come down to what the verbage of the contract actually says.