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  Buzz Aldrin sues Topps, Inc. over trading cards (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Buzz Aldrin sues Topps, Inc. over trading cards
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-29-2010 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In a case involving similar issues to astronaut Bruce McCandless' still pending legal action against pop singer Dido last October, Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin has filed a lawsuit against Topps, Inc. The Los Angeles Times reports...
The 80-year-old retired astronaut sued Topps on Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, contending that the trading card company had unjustly profited from his historic achievement by including a photograph of the Apollo 11 mission in a series of trading cards...

Topps' attorney, Michael Kahn, said the company had a 1st Amendment right "to include a factual description of the historic events in which Dr. Aldrin participated."

"Topps included Dr. Aldrin within the 'American Heroes' edition because it believes he is an American hero and is thus proud to be able to share such information with its audience," Kahn said in an April 15 letter to the law firm representing Aldrin.

Aldrin's attorneys were unable to negotiate a licensing fee with Topps, prompting the retired astronaut to take the matter to court. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a court order prohibiting Topps from marketing the trading cards.

The correspondence between Aldrin's and Topps' attorneys can be read in two sets (one | two, PDFs) of documents filed with the court and obtained by collectSPACE.

Topps' 2009 American Heritage: American Heroes Edition "Heroes of Spaceflight" were previously discussed here on collectSPACE.

dom
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posted 12-29-2010 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has he got no shame!

I think it is Buzz Aldrin himself who has "unjustly profited from his historic achievement".

jimsz
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posted 12-29-2010 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe it is legal to use NASA images.

99.9999% of people would have no clue that is Mr. Aldrin.

The man is simply tarnishing his image.

Russ Still
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posted 12-29-2010 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems to me like McCandless and now Aldrin are pushing their "rights" a bit too far. In my layman's opinion, at least. First of all there's this issue of the use of famous people's public domain photos. Newspapers and magazines have been doing it for as long as they've existed.

But the thing that gets me is that you cannot see the astronaut's face in the images. You only see their spacesuits. So if Buzz Aldrin is inside of an airplane or bus and someone wants to sell pictures of the vehicle, he can sue to stop them? Sheesh! I think he's gone way too far with his sense of importance.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-29-2010 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
I believe it is legal to use NASA images.
NASA's policy is clear:
If a NASA image includes an identifiable person, using the image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the person.
As previously mentioned in connection with the McCandless case, it may not matter how many people can identify the person depicted, only that they can be identified.

Aldrin and McCandless are not alone among the astronauts who have legally sought to protect their likeness. Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, and the families of the late Jim Irwin and Pete Conrad have all succeeded in preventing the unauthorized commercial use of their image. Even more have collected license fees for their photographs to be used in connection with advertising and products.

rjurek349
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posted 12-29-2010 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about artists who paint his image and then sell the work? What about autograph collectors who "own his image and autograph", paid him the fee, and re-sell it. Does he get a cut of that? What about books and articles, usually written and published for fees and royalties, that talk about his achievement and leverage his image? What about newspapers and magazines that publish the images, and generate a revenue with publishing their articles?

This is insane. And ridiculous. That image was made with public dollars. He is in that photo because of taxpapyers. He has been "cashing in" at our expense for a very, very long time. No one would give a hoot about Buzz Aldrin if the American taxpayer had not ponied up millions to make that picture possible. (And besides, Neil took the photo - who's the copyright holder? NASA? The American taxpayer? The photographer?)

And while that argument is rather naive sounding (it is in my ears, too) -- there is, in my mind some truth to it. I mean, afterall: did they not go there for "all mankind?" and not "for Buzz Aldrin, copyright brand X"? Again - if it was a WSS photo or something like that, I can see it. Or if they had him endorsing a product on an advert (like Coke or something); but Topps can argue these cards, although commercially offered, are (like flash cards, or the stats on the back of a baseball card)educational tools.

quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
NASA's policy is clear
Key for me here are the terms "may" and "should." It doesn't say "must." That is NASA policy, and not law.

quote:
Even more have collected license fees for their photographs to be used in connection with advertising and products.
Maybe - but where does the line begin and end? Seems to me that a good lawyer could drive a truck through the argument on this. If used in defamation, sure. But as public domain? And as required by law? Were these settlements or did these fees actually result from litigation?

And let's look at the definition of noticeable. Noticeable personality by whom? The person themselves (to the point above, a photo of a bus or an Airplane with Mr. I-can't-name-him-because-I-might-get-sued-government-employed-astronaut) -- saying, oh yes, that's me, I recognize myself, or the general public, most of whom can not name Buzz (except for B. Lightyear), or name the "Cordless EVA Astronaut". It's not like how everyone recognizes a true brand name or image, or even if it was Aldrin's WSS shot. It is an Apollo astronaut in a suit. That's it.

I could go on and on. But man, this just bothers the heck out of me.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-29-2010 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rjurek349:
...who's the copyright holder?
Aldrin (and McCandless) are not claiming copyright. NASA images (for the most part) are public domain but there are restrictions for their commercial use, including:
Astronauts or employees who are currently employed by NASA cannot have their likenesses or names displayed on any commercial products, advertisements or commercial product packaging. Astronauts and NASA employees who are retired from the Agency can grant permission for the use of their likenesses or names, but that permission may be subject to a fee. For deceased astronauts or employees, their families must grant permission for use of their images or names.
Many of the other example situations raised, e.g. the artwork, books and articles, are covered under the doctrine of fair use and do not apply to this case. Others, like the collector selling the autograph, are protected under the first-sale doctrine.

The question in Aldrin's case is First Amendment protections as claimed by Topps, Inc. versus rights of publicity, as defined under the California civil code.

rjurek349
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posted 12-29-2010 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, that may be, but as I understand it, given that it is not copyright, but rather personality rights, there are MANY exceptions in both case and common law to this use, its inconsistent execution -- especially with celebrities and politicians -- and that a different standard is applied when discussing ordinary citizen personality rights, and the personality rights of celebrities and politicians.

Additionally, as I understand it, the core principal is also one of believing that the INDIVIDUAL'S brand/image is being traded upon, or that they somehow have endorsed the product or use of the image.

I would argue, and I am sure a survey of a random sample population will confirm (as long as it is not stacked with us space geeks) that a "majority" or even a reasonable number of people would NEVER recognize the people beneath those suits. I'd be surprised if they didn't say that the Aldrin image is actually Armstrong or that the EVA picture is actually David Bowie as Major Tom. (Tongue firmly in cheek on that one....)

If it was a picture of Aldrin, now, with his Rocket Hero T-shirt -- I'd say, yeah, you know, he's right. Or a crew photo shot, or a visor up shot. But it is a recognized image of an Apollo astronaut. Most would not know who the heck it is -- heck, I see many books incorrectly call Aldrin's image Armstrong's, and the reverse. Just my two cents. Which are worth about that...

And while it irks me, it is also an interesting conversation and debate. But in the end, it will be decided by the courts. The issue then becomes: what is the impact? If these suits are successful -- what does it mean for the production of hi-res image CDs, lithos for signings, commercial documentaries, paintings made for commercial sale of these "characters", etc. etc.?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-29-2010 08:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rjurek349:
I'd be surprised if they didn't say that the Aldrin image is actually Armstrong...
And therein lies an interesting observation. Take a look at the card packaging as reproduced above. Notice anything odd?

There are three portraits on the box and each is labeled. Both Mickey Mantle and Abraham Lincoln are identified as such, but Aldrin's image is labeled only as "Moon Landing Apollo 11."

The name of the set is "American Heroes Edition," not "American Historic Events Edition" so why not label the image as Aldrin? Or if they didn't feel enough people would recognize the name Buzz Aldrin, why not use Neil Armstrong? There were after all, a couple of Armstrong cards in the set, too.

Topps has a lot of experience working with baseball players, so I'm sure they're well versed on the usage of Mickey Mantle's image and Abraham Lincoln's likeness is public domain.

Could they have wanted to avoid identifying Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin on their marketing materials so they wouldn't encounter issues like the current one? Topps may have not licensed the use of any individuals for this particular set, but they are very familiar with licensing given some of their prior non-sports cards sets.

Is "Apollo 11" that much more recognizable than "Neil Armstrong" or for that matter, "Buzz Aldrin"?

jimsz
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posted 12-29-2010 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Aldrin is being petty and seems to be living up to his reputation.

He was a government employee on his government job having his photo taken with government cameras in the performance of his government job.

His name is not visible, his face is not visible. It should be case closed.

It comes across as a petty lawsuit.

It would be interesting to hear from those that sell archive space flight video from the same government cameras.

Do they negotiate with each astronaut even if they are only visible in their suit?

mjanovec
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posted 12-29-2010 11:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We often hear about how Buzz wants to raise awareness of the space program...which is used to justify all sorts of products and ventures he participates in (including a laughably bad rap song, tacky looking Nike sneakers, a Louis Vuitton ad, and an appearance on Dancing With the Stars, to name four recent examples). But when Topps (an admittedly commercial outfit) wants to simply display facts/photos of space history (Apollo 11) on their cards...possibly sparking interest of history in a new generation...Buzz cries fowl because he isn't getting a paycheck.

Just because someone might have a legal basis for doing something doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do. In the end, Buzz's legacy may pay the highest price.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 12-30-2010 02:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
In the end, Buzz's legacy may pay the highest price.
Arguably the thin veneer of respectability has already been self-eroded... at least in the eyes of many enthusiasts and erstwhile fans, who have seen the spiralling venality. His fame as a grumpy self-publicist will long outlive the legacy and inspiration that could have been. I hope this latest venture gets the publicity it deserves.

Rob Joyner
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posted 12-30-2010 04:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rob Joyner   Click Here to Email Rob Joyner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are consumers who would buy this card set only because Aldrin is included, and for no other reason. Topps would make a profit because of those purchases. Whether anyone opposes his ethics or not, Aldrin is due compensation, especially since Topps is "proud to be able to share such information with its audience", share for a price, that is.

garymilgrom
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posted 12-30-2010 06:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Rob's objective reply. Some of the emotion shown here is misplaced. If some of you want to throw away your rights you are allowed to do that, but you cannot impose your decisions on right or wrong on other people. The image shown is the famous visor shot, arguably one of the most well known photos of the 20th century. Let Dr. Aldrin pursue whatever rights he wants in our legal system.

jimsz
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posted 12-30-2010 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rob Joyner:
There are consumers who would buy this card set only because Aldrin is included, and for no other reason.
I disagree. Consumers may buy the set because an Apollo astronaut is featured on the box (and a generic astronaut at that).

Mr. Aldrin was a government employee, on his government job when his photo was taken with a government camera. This was not a snapshot from a family vacation taken by his wife.

I'm not sure which is more distasteful the lawyers actually representing this case or an 80 year old that appears to be grasping at more fame.

Why can anyone receive permission from NASA to use their images (of moonwalkers) (I know I have checked into it) on commercial products as well as buy images of astronauts from stock art photography sites for advertising and have all commercial rights to use them?

Mr. Aldrin and Mr. McCandless are appearing to be like the people in the late night "let me sue someone for you" TV commercials.

It's sad.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 07:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
Why can anyone receive permission from NASA to use their images... on commercial products...
NASA's policy on commercial use of its imagery exists for a reason. There have been numerous commercial projects that have been denied use of NASA imagery due to their planned use being deemed inappropriate and/or because the photos included identifiable people.

Delta7
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posted 12-30-2010 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Calling Jackie Chiles. "Buzz Aldrin? Back again?"

Tykeanaut
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posted 12-30-2010 07:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would appear to be more about money and less about the principle.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 07:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
But when Topps (an admittedly commercial outfit) wants to simply display facts/photos of space history (Apollo 11) on their cards... possibly sparking interest of history in a new generation...
I'm not sure if Topps' motivation to produce these cards was driven by anything more than what they felt would sell the best to their target audience, but regardless of that I agree that sets like these can be a great way to expose children (and adults) to space history. MSNBC asked for my comment yesterday about this case, and I shared a similar sentiment:
Pearlman said he appreciated Aldrin's view, but worried that such legal disputes "could dissuade Topps and other trading card companies from producing astronaut- and space-themed products, which would be unfortunate."

"Dating back to the 1960s, space trading cards have been a great way to engage kids in learning about space history," Pearlman said.

rjurek349
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posted 12-30-2010 07:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rjurek349   Click Here to Email rjurek349     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is an interesting situation - and one that, ultimately, will be decided by the courts, as said. I hope they let it play out in the courts, though, and get a decision, rather than a settlement. It'll be fun to watch.

As for the emotion of the posts above being misplaced -- in hindsight, at least in my case, yes: but that is due to the "Buzz Factor." It tends to rile, even normally reasonable minds.

The rest is devils advocate and fun speculation. (Not a lawyer, and don't play one on tv...) When does a person of historical importance lose their privacy right (as opposed to pure celebrity) -- or do they? How can it be used? A president (public servant) vs. astronaut (public employee), for example -- or a baseball player (commercial product).

What is a "commercial use"? Dido's use is clearly commercial. But is Topps'? Could they perhaps not argue educational use -- like flash cards? They do not have Aldrin commercially endorsing the cards -- but are representing the Apollo image in historic context of national heroes. Yes, they are making a profit -- but don't text book makers, and the like? They are covered by right of use as an educational tool.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

Russ Still
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posted 12-30-2010 07:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But remember, it's not Aldrin at all in the photo - it's his spacesuit. It's a picture of an object that hides Aldrin's visage completely. I'd say he should have NO rights at all in a case like this.

If he wins this, he could easily say people couldn't use images of his Saturn V because he's inside.

Incidentally, NASA's policy on commercial use of its imagery is probably only window-dressing anyway. They cannot assert copyright, so they're not being gracious with the public. And NASA policy carries no weight in law.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 08:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Russ Still:
I'd say he should have NO rights at all in a case like this.
Aldrin has prevailed over the use of this specific photo in previous cases, so in that limited regard this lawsuit is not necessarily setting a new precedent.

And NASA can, and has, asserted copyright in some cases. NASA's image use policy is based on legal rules governing the space agency and federal agencies in general.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 08:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by rjurek349:
Could they perhaps not argue educational use -- like flash cards?
That is more or less what Topps is arguing.

Topps' position (and Aldrin's counterpoint) is laid out fairly clearly in the documents filed with the court, as linked from the original post. The included correspondence between the two parties' attorneys is an instructive read.

Russ Still
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posted 12-30-2010 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russ Still   Click Here to Email Russ Still     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Aldrin has prevailed over the use of this specific photo in previous cases
Yeah, I'm aware he's done it successfully before. Seems like it was a watch or something. Didn't remember if it was the same image of "him" or not. But I'd argue, again, that it is his spacesuit, not his likeness. (And I'm sure he argued that this iconic image was associated with him even if you can't actually see him. I'm not buying that, but I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge.)
quote:
And NASA can, and has, asserted copyright in some cases.
I've heard rumors that NASA had asserted copyright before, but I don't think I've seen any evidence of it. If so, there must have been some unusual circumstances because I think items produced by the government with public funds are excluded from copyright protection.

xlsteve
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posted 12-30-2010 09:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe that, among other products, Buzz sued to have this same image removed from an ad for some kind of alcoholic beverage. I can see why he’d want that removed given his previous history of alcohol problems. He talks about this in Magnificent Desolation.

I would argue that although the photo is of a spacesuit, it is one of most famous photos of the 20th century and so the suit can only contain Aldrin and therefore he is identifiable in that photo. If I had random photos from the other lunar landings spread out in front of me, I don't think I would be able to identify who was in the photo unless it was a pretty well-known photo from that mission, or I had seen it before with a caption. While Apollo 11 was conducted on the government's dime, I don't think that nullifies Buzz's right to protect his image, which is his choice. I've seen the 'soil sample' photo of Alan Bean used in a lot of places too, but I've yet to hear of a case where he sued to have it removed, but I would argue that he could if he was not comfortable with its unauthorized use. I don't think the same argument can be applied to a launch vehicle or other equipment.

Having said the above, I will note that Buzz's business and, shall we say, "publicity" activities have raised an eyebrow with me in the past, but ultimately he keeps his own counsel on what he is involved with. I don't get emotionally riled up about it, because it's none of my business. While I think he has the right to sue, whether he ought to is a different matter. I agree with Robert's statement to MSNBC that this might dissuade other trading card companies from using images from the space program, which would be unfortunate.

albatron
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posted 12-30-2010 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the primary thing we are missing here is this:

Motivation.

WHY is he suing over this?

Most likely because he didn't get any money for it. Had Topps offered him any monies this wouldn't even be up for discussion or in court.

Topps went through this with three sets they produced in the early 90's; the 53 Topps Archives, the 54 Topps Archives and the 55 Dodgers Archive sets.

When the dust and legal situations settled, the IDENTIFIABLE players were allowed to keep their cards out of the set.

Notably that ended up being only a very few. Russ brings up an interesting point - it ISN'T Buzz, it's his spacesuit. This opens a can of works should he prevail.

Again, motivation.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by albatron:
WHY is he suing over this? Most likely because he didn't get any money for it.
The original Los Angeles Times' article and the court papers shared above make this clear. From the earlier:
Aldrin's attorneys were unable to negotiate a licensing fee with Topps, prompting the retired astronaut to take the matter to court.
As with trademarks and I believe patents, if you do not defend every use of your intellectual property (IP), you lose your rights to it.

Velcro, for example, consistently sends out legal warnings to journalists, retailers and others that if the word "Velcro" is to be used, it must be capitalized and the use must specifically refer to its brand. Otherwise a generic term, such as "hook and fasteners," must be used instead.

My layman's understanding, based on past advice from counsel on related issues, is that if Aldrin -- or any astronaut or individual -- has and/or continues to want to be able to control the use of his image or IP, then he needs to defend its use from unauthorized commercial reproduction.

MrSpace86
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posted 12-30-2010 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read most of the posts on this thread and I wonder, what about the other people included in this set (or any other set)? Do their estates/families receive royalties or some sort of compensation? If Abraham Lincoln's family and Mickey Mantle's family receive something, then Buzz Aldrin is also entitled.

jimsz
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posted 12-30-2010 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
NASA's policy on commercial use of its imagery exists for a reason.
I was not asking "why" commercial use is allowed - I was asking that why can NASA give commercial use permission of images of moonwalkers (and spacesuited) astronauts and Mr. Aldrin is suing someone for the exact same commercial use of an image he is claiming rights to.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's policy as stated is very clear: it cannot grant permission for the commercial use of identifiable individuals in NASA photos. Permission must be sought from the individual.

jimsz
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posted 12-30-2010 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
My layman's understanding, based on past advice from counsel on related issues, is that if Aldrin -- or any astronaut or individual -- has and/or continues to want to be able to control the use of his image or IP, then he needs to defend its use from unauthorized commercial reproduction.
I do own a number of trademarks and the understanding is correct.

However, Mr. Aldrin is not recognizable in the image and I still argue that the government (NASA) owns all the rights of these images not the astronaut. Mr. Aldrin is nowhere to be seen in most moon walk images and it is not possible to recognize him. His suit, which is government property, is recognizable.

This is simply ridiculous and I would hope the court would toss it as a frivolous lawsuit and charge Mr. Aldrin for all costs associated.

dom
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posted 12-30-2010 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My cynical mind is beginning to think that Aldrin planned all this back in July 1969 when he "forgot" to take decent photographs of the first man on the moon.

At least Armstrong doesn't have to worry about others using his moonwalk image without permission.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-30-2010 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
But Dom, Armstrong's image is right there, reflected in Aldrin's visor! OK, it's very small, but are we really saying that size doesn't matter?

mjanovec
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posted 12-30-2010 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
At least Armstrong doesn't have to worry about others using his moonwalk image without permission.
Armstrong could technically argue that his image is on the same Topps cards that Aldrin's image is on (as a reflection in the visor). But I suspect Neil is more select about picking his legal battles.

Neil does have to worry about people using his famous "one small step" speech. He successfully sued Hallmark for including a recording of that speech in an ornament they issued. (The case was settled out of court and Armstrong donated the money to Purdue University.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And Armstrong has stopped others from using NASA photographs of him for commercial products and projects, so both he and Aldrin, as well as many of the other Apollo astronauts have exerted at least some control over the use of their photos taken while in the hire of the space agency.

mjanovec
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posted 12-30-2010 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has Armstrong stopped commercial use of his image for photos of himself while dressed in a spacesuit with the reflective visor down (and therefore totally unrecognizable)? Or has he limited his actions to photos that clearly show his likeness (such as his WSS portrait)?

Spacepsycho
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posted 12-30-2010 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm curious how much MTV paid Buzz for using his likeness as an award statue and their famous logo? I'm thinking there's an untapped well of cash in an MTV lawsuit. Maybe MTV will give Buzz his own reality show and that would seem to be the natural progression. By the way, if Buzz sues MTV, I'll sue Buzz for my 10-20% for giving him the idea. LOL.

Sadly this looks like a blackmail when Topps and Buzz's attorneys couldn't agree to a "fee".

I can understand protecting your name and likeness, but this is a bit much and it looks like gluttony and greed.

Ultimately it's Buzz's call how to lead his life and he is clearly in control of his actions, being a truly brilliant guy. However, it's obvious that Buzz or people around him, couldn't care less about his legacy by allowing the dog and pony show to keep rolling. I have a feeling as long as the cash keeps coming in, we have not seen the last of Buzz's paid appearances.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mjanovec:
(and therefore totally unrecognizable)
Someone's face need not to be visible for the person to be recognizable.

For example, take a photo of a jersey-wearing sports player from the back and you still have his name blazoned across his shoulders to identify him by (if not also his number, too).

In Aldrin's visor photo, Aldrin's name tag is clearly readable running vertically along the remote control unit (RCU). So in that sense, he is identifiable.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2010 02:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacepsycho:
I'm curious how much MTV paid Buzz for using his likeness as an award statue and their famous logo?
MTV is said to have received permission from Aldrin to use his likeness for their promotions and award (the latter of which is sometimes referred to as the "Buzzy") as did Pixar before naming their animated space ranger Buzz Lightyear (to list another example). In both cases, the commercial use was authorized (the terms of such are between Aldrin and the companies in question).

dom
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posted 12-30-2010 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
Armstrong's image is right there, reflected in Aldrin's visor! OK, it's very small, but are we really saying that size doesn't matter?

Why don't we all get together and sue Buzz for the unauthorised use of Earth in his space photographs?

I know we are not individually recognisable on the planet's surface but I'm sure we could find a lawyer (such as his for a start!) who could prove that it is us under all that atmosphere.


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