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Thread: Using Copywrited Material in a Haunted House

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  1. Question Using Copywrited Material in a Haunted House 
    Does anyone know if its possible to use Freddy K. and the Jigsaw's Puppet, Billy (in Saw) in my haunts? Is this covered in the fair use rule? I have a great mask and props of each of these but i'm wondering if i need permission to use these from the makers?


  2. Default  
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Las Vegas
    In one word...YES!

    Think of it this way, if it's been in a book, magazine or movie it's copyrighted!
    Sure you can put it in your haunt, and some people do. However, the movie production company, writer, director and probably a list of others has to right to sue you for infringement and they will win, period.

    I have NEVER used a licensed character and feel haunts shouldn't for two reasons...

    First with the exception of a very limited few, you wil never do justice to the on screen images. They have thousands of dollars t create that scenec, you have hundreds. Anyone seeing it a haunt will make comments like, "that doesn't look anything like the movie".

    Second, it's just as easy to create your own unique characters and story lines. This way it's more creative, original and you don't have to worry about anyone permission. Your audience also gets a new and unique experience that they can ONLY get at your attraction.

    IF they want to see Freddy, go to a movie or rent the video. But if you want to see the story what happened to Mortimer and Dr. Vander at Meadview Asylum...you'll have to go to my haunt!

    Besides you can have fun with it! We had the Asylum and wanted a second attraction. So I wrote a whole story tying the two attractions together with a common thread. So now I have people go to the Asylum and then want to go to Hotel Fear to see the rest of the story!

    Just go to the web site http://www.lasvegashaunts.com/
    Click on either the Asylum or Hotel Fear
    On the top of each of the pages you see an icon "Listen to the story of the Asylum (or Hotel Fear)" I had a voice actor record the story of each.

    Sure it took a little longer than throwing a freddy mask on someone, but the results are worth the effort.
    R&J Productions
    Las Vegas, NV

  3. Default Market vs. Use? 
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Columbia, SC
    I think there are also factors that play into like are you trying to market your haunt as "Freddy vs. Jason" or "Saw"?

    For example, the guy who did the haunted attraction based after the Saw movie franchise recreated the attraction based after the films and used characters and traps from the movies. It was marketed AS the Saw attraction and he obtained permission from Lions Gate and was licensed the use of materials for his haunt.

    If you are just using a store bought mask for one of your characters to do a quick pop out scare or something of that nature, it is still not yours to use without permission to make a profit from, however, a lot of lower budget haunts do it regardless.

    Same rules apply for music and the sort, so the best rule of thumb is: GO ORIGINAL OR GET A LICENSE.

  4. Default  
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    I had never even heard of the "Fair Use Rule" and thought it sounded like an urban legend. Turns out there is such a thing but your use would be far from fair and would be illegal.

    Using a character others have spent millions to make popular so you can make money from it is not fair. That's the way the creators and the courts would see it.

    This same subject has been brought up many times, and some have said they just did it, assuming the studios would never seek them out. But just the other day there was some news about the recording industry going after those who are stealing music. So you never know.


  5. Default  
    Nightgore Guest
    I agree with Rich 110%... If I see a haunt using "movie characters", I instantly want a refund because to me it's the biggest lack of creativity you could ever see. ANYONE can go get those masks... it's just a quick fix for laziness!

    BE ORIGINAL!!! -Tyler

  6. Default  
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Avoid using trademarked characters, it will really only cause more harm to your reputation as lacking creativity. It also doesn't provide a "realistic" experience to patrons in the way that a creative story full of unique characters can. Even if you buy the mask and costume of a movie character, the actor will never do the role in the exact way as the movie (and it will lead to fun comments like "I thought Jason was taller" or "why does Freddy look like a kid?").

    Use movies as a source of inspiration, but do not copy them. Create your own psychotic killer with his own unique makeup/mask and costume.
    Katie Lane
    Raven's Wolf Art Productions (www.ravens-wolf.com)

    Bansheette Morningstar (www.bansheette.com)

  7. Wink Movie Characters... 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    Hmmm.... I'm on the fence about this. I've seen both used to great effect and very poorly. Depends on the haunt.

    Out of creativity and originality you get some really awesome designs. Look at Netherworld and The Scarehouse for some awesome Icon characters. Some of their designs could be straight out of a horror movie set. Most of these I prefer. Not everyone can produce these kinds of results, though. Not everyone has their skill level. The fact remains, it is cheaper to produce original characters that no one has seen before, therefore they have nothing to compare it to.

    Back to the question. Can you use copyrighted material? Short answer: It is a violation of copyright law to use movie characters. Unfortuantely, the public at large likes them and pays money to see them or the movies wouldn't be so popular. It's certainly a catch-22. The studios make killer moolah of licensing cheap and crappy-looking versions of their famous characters costumes and masks for Halloween.

    Does that allow us to use them in our haunts? Not, really. If you are profiting off their intellectual property it is a copyright violation. Will you get caught? Probably not unless you feature them in your high profile advertsing or name one of your attractions after them. That doesn't mean it can't happen, nor, am I endorsing you do it. You run the same risk if you use unlicensed music. But it is a risk, nonetheless. Ask yourself, can I afford to get sued?

    Our industry, however, is not know for adhearing to strict rules regarding copyright usage. We seem to have a large "grey area" when it comes to copyrights. Search through the older threads on haunts showing popular movies in their lobby for que line entertainment. Go back and look at how many people don't pay rights for that either and have no qualms about using them. Same scenario, different circumstances.

    Conversely, I don't know that I'd go so far as to suggest that 13th Gate or Rocky Point suffered from "laziness" or "the biggest lack of creativity you could ever see". Both have been voted as top haunts in their time by their peers and customers. Both have used movie characters at some point with fantastic looking results.

    I think in the end it all comes down to any haunts production values. If its a cheap black walls, Kmart sort of haunt, then that awful Freddy K. costume you bought from Party City will look like what it is: cheap and uninspired!

  8. Default  
    Nightgore Guest
    Rocky Point... 13th Gate... Universal Studios... it doesn't matter, still lazy! Just my opinion and I'm sticking to it! -Tyler

  9. Default  
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Near Charlotte NC
    Last year we began using 'specialty (s)characters in our haunt in the hope that over time people will recognize the characters as our own. We have NEVER used any movie characters and agree that it's better to create your own.

    Last year I went to a haunt that had great sets, props, animatronics, and others. I turned around in one room and was confronted by a 5-foot tall person in a Freddy Krueger mask. Spoiled the rest of the haunt for me...

  10. Default  
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Atlanta, GA

    Lazy, really?!? Geez.... That seems a little harsh don't you think? If those guys are lazy then I'd hate to see what you consider, diligently working. These haunters have worked hard busting their tails to make into the nation's best haunts. I think they've worked hard enough and don't see anything lazy about them. I'm sure they are laughing all the way to the bank.

    As I seem to recall, weren't YOU working on a SAW knockoff house a couple of years ago? Something with "Game" in the title? I seem to remember you posting on the boards about it. Matter of fact, I know you made a wav file and posted a link online that seemed to mimic the Jigsaw killer's V.O about "playing a game" and having" five minutes to make it out". I still have it floating around here on my pc. I thought it was pretty decent.

    Why the sudden 180? Just makes you seem a bit hypocritical. I'm not trying to hate on you. You seem to have taken such a staunch stand on an issue you seemed to think differently about not too very long ago. Of course, everyone's entitled to change their mind....

    Me, well I have no opinion one way or another. I'm just saying that the use: for/against, is all in the execution. In the examples we sited i.e. Universal, 13th Gate, and Rocky Point have had great production values. It can go way on the other side as well. I've seen local haunts who have used those same characters and it made them look unoriginal to their guests and cheapend their show quality becuase they used off the shelf costumes and did not theme their sets.



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