Tuesday, August 11, 2009

James Warren Loses Famous Monsters Court Case

Abandoned. That's the ruling of a recent Philadelphia court hearing the case from legendary publisher James Warren, seeking to assert copyright over images of his former monster movie magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Famous Monsters ceased publication in 1983 when Warren's publishing mini-empire went out of business. Later, the title was revived by publisher Ray Ferry, who published it for a number of years before ending in a legal free-for-all. At issue in the court case was whether a book, Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos, had violated Warren's copyrights on the cover paintings by the famed Gogos by reprinting images of the covers in the book.

The court said no. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

[The federal judge ruled] that James Warren - the publisher who created Famous Monsters of Filmland - had effectively abandoned any claim to the title of the magazine that began the horror-fan magazine genre 51 years ago.

Warren's association with the magazine ended in 1983, wrote U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson, and since then, "Warren has taken virtually no action to retain his common-law ownership of the mark. Indeed, for almost 25 years, he has not published another issue of the magazine, and has not engaged in a substantial attempt to sell memorabilia or anything else with the Famous Monsters name."

The Legal Intelligencer notes:

Baylson also rejected Warren's contention that publication of the book interfered with Warren's plans for a coffee-table book on his magazines, noting that Warren had taken no significant steps to produce a book until after Spurlock's book was published, and that witnesses had testified that Spurlock's book would not adversely affect the market for Warren's book if it were published.

Frankly, I hope Warren does plan such a book, especially if it only focuses on Famous Monsters. That could be quite a book. On a different track, other Warren titles -- the comics magazines Creepy and Eerie -- are being collected and republished by Dark Horse in a series of deluxe coffee table editions. Could Warren also (or instead) publish a collection of reprints of Famous Monsters? I think they'd have a good chance at finding an appreciative audience.

All of which does suggest I just might have been correct when I wondered on this blog many moons ago whether Starlog was keeping its claim alive to discontinued print titles (Comics Scene, Future Life, Cinemagic, Fantasy Worlds) by using them as headers for special sections of that magazine. Just wanted you to know how darned perceptive this blog is ...

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