News

Birdman Lives

Glenn Otis Brown, May 30th, 2003

Salon has a fun piece, “Pillaging the Cartoon Universe,” about the Cartoon Network’s “Birdman: Attorney at Law,” a show saturated with cameos by characters from classic cartoons and other pop culture artifacts. Two disappointing aspects to this piece: 1) the bulk of it is available only to Salon “premium” subscribers, and 2) author Scott Thill makes no mention of how the Birdman creators go about clearing rights for the re-use of copyrighted characters (ironic, given that the show centers around Birdman’s life as a litigator).

Anyone out there know the answer? Do the Birdman people enjoy a Mike Meyers-like licensing deal, are they asserting fair use, or is it a combination of the two?

3 Responses to “Birdman Lives”

  1. Jeff says:

    I love Johnny Quest, but what is wrong with “Butch Cassidy” characters?

    The funny thing about the Mike Meyers- Like” license is… how are they going to handle the product licensing deals of the movie itself when the movie contains dozens of licensing deals to begin with?

    The lawyers are the ones that will make a ton of money on this one.

  2. Erik Ostrom says:

    Small correction: The article is available to both Salon Premium subscribers and people who are willing and able to sit through a Flash ad.

  3. c.a. childers says:

    Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is produced for Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network, a Turner company, owns the entire Hannah Barbera library. The primary rule seems to be that there are various levels of availability for different characters. Birdman is a higher tier show than one like Sea Lab 2021, and its producers are offered more freedom as to which characters they can use. Birdman gets Johnny Quest characters, whereas Sea Lab gets Butch Cassidy characters. Birdman is also produced for a much greater sum of money. The rights management is handled in house, just like Warner to DC Comics, I suppose. Rights are doled out based on other projects within the megamedia machine, precedence given to those larger projects that are likely to generate cash.