Bluewater Responds to Cease and Desist from Gaga and Bieber

Bluewater Responds to Cease and Desist

Bluewater Productions has received cease-and-desist orders from an attorney acting on behalf of pop stars Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, Rich Johnston reported Tuesday on comic book industry gossip site Bleeding Cool.

Bluewater has attracted frequent mainstream media attention in the past year for their unauthorized comic book biographies of celebrities and politicians. Lady Gaga was profiled in a comic book in June, and Justin Bieber's bio comic is scheduled for release in October

According to Johnston and Bluewater publisher Darren G. Davis, Bieber and Lady Gaga are being represented by licensing attorney Kenneth Feinswog, who represented The New Kids on the Block in a 1990 suit against Revolutionary Comics. Like Bluewater, Revolutionary published unauthorized biographies of public figures, most famously in the late '80s/early '90s title Rock 'N' Roll Comics.

In April 1990, a U.S. district judge ruled that it was legal for Revolutionary to distribute the unauthorized New Kids on the Block comic; four months later, the publisher and pop group reached a settlement over use of the band's logo. Bluewater purchased the rights to reprint Rock 'N' Roll Comics last year.

In January, controversy arose after Bluewater Productions was accused of not paying freelancers for their work. Davis responded that the company's business model was to pay creators when a product becomes profitable.

Today's news came just hours after a preview of Bluewater's second unauthorized Lady Gaga comic debuted on MTV's Splash Page blog.

Davis and former Revolutionary Comics writer and managing editor Jay Sanford provided Newsarama with responses to the cease-and-desist orders, which are published unedited below:

FROM DARREN G. DAVIS - BLUEWATER 

We are 100% within our 1st amendment rights.  We know our rights on this before we jumped into the biography world.  These are 100% biographies on their lives. Bluewater has featured subjects like Taylor Swift, Kristen Stewart, Oprah, JK Rowling & Robert Pattinson.  We reach out to all the celebrities and some choose to work with us and some do not.  If they do choose to work with us, we donate ads and money to a nonprofit of their choice.  We offered the same deal to Bieber's people.   

These are not-poster books and as it was explained to the licensing lawyer, Kenneth Feinswog (who works for the licensing company). It tells the story of his life in 22-pages and we offered to send him a copy of the book before it went to print.   We have been offered deals with poster books, sticker books and we had to turn them down because we know we do not have the rights to that.  But doing an unauthorized biography we are in full within our rights.   

It feels like they are doing this because our comic book got the same amount of press as the their book "Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever".  Both are being released the same month as well as 4 other Bieber books. We choose Justin Bieber, because of how he is changing the music industry.  This was a kid that posted his songs on YouTube to share with his family and became a superstar from that.  This is a great story for kids to get inspired from. 

Our book is no different from these books: "Justin Bieber: The Fever!" by Marc Shapiro  , "Justin Bieber: The Unauthorized Biography by Chas Newkey-Burden", "Justin Bieber (Mini Bio) by Sarah E. Parvis ", "Justin Bieber: Singing Sensation (Big Buddy Biographies) by Sarah Tieck ", "Justin Bieber: Our World (Me & You) by Millie Rowlands".  Our lawyer is in contact with Mr. Feinswog.

FROM JAY SANFORD: REVOLUTIONARY COMICS (ROCK AND ROLL COMICS) 

The only aspect of his multi-count New Kids lawsuit that the Judge sided with him was about RevCom using the NK TRADEMARK - their visual likenesses are NOT trademarked. Note the telling way he words the end of his second paragraph, "The same judge later entered a permanent injunction enjoining Revolutionary Comics from using the New Kids TRADEMARK." Yeppers, true true - so the book went back to press the next day minus their logo. All else in the bio comic was deemed legal and permissable --- 

The Great Southern case he references is an entirely different matter, and a tangled one at that (even more than most lawsuits) - before RnR Comics, Todd Loren ran a company called Musicade, which sold rock memoribilia like posters, patches, etc. Sure enough, some Musicade stock turned out to be bootlegged - Todd got sued by Great Southern, tho none of it related to the comics, which didn't exist yet. 

Todd ended up admitting liability RE the Musicade brou-ha-ha, and he signed an agreement with Great Southern essentially saying he would no longer infringe on their clients' intellectual property rights. Among those clients were Motley Crue, Led Zep, and Bon Jovi, along with Twisted Sister and several others. 

Well, two years later, RnR Comics happened, and Todd did comics on Crue and Jovi. Great Southern cried foul and pointed out Todd's pre-RevCom agreement RE bootleg merchandise. Great Southern did indeed use that to have a prelim injunction granted against the COMICS' distribution, and both Diamond and Capital City dropped RevCom. For a month or so. 

The injunction was lifted after RevCom managed to get around the agreement Todd had signed RE Musicade, which made sense since RevCom didn't even exist when the agreement was signed. AND the comics clearly weren't bootleg patches or posters. The Jovi and Motley comics went back to press and remained in print for years. 

Hell, Motley Crue actually bought the rights to their Revolutionary comic, and reprinted it in their official CD box set Music to Crash Your Car To II! That would seem to take any remaining air out of Feinswog's argument that the old Motley/Great Southern/RevCom injunction had any merit, even if it hadn't been lifted a month later (and both Diamond and Capital immediately carried all RevComics again, until the line stopped publishing). 

The other case Feinswog's letter refers to is when Johnny and Edgar Winter tried to sue DC over two albino Jonah Hex characters who looked like them and had similar names -- Feinswog tries to say that DC only dodged damages by virtue of the character being substantially changed from the real life Winter Bros.  

The other thing to note is his citation of Doe v. TVI Cablevision --- he very carefully avoids telling you that this is the famous Todd McFarlane VS Tony Twist case, wherein a bad guy character in Spawn has a name and likeness similar to a famous hockey player. In the comic, he's a VERY bad guy - so the lawsuit was about defamation, bot bio right! The comic made it look like McFarlane - a big hockey fan - was saying this famous hockey player was like some kinda mob thug.

 

 

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