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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old September 16 2011, 07:19 PM   #1
F. King Daniel
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Actors' likenesses on covers

Weird brain fart. Bear with me.

Pocket Books have the rights to depict the various Star Trek actors and spaceships and sets on the covers of their novels. Will that always be the case?

I know this is a completely different set of circumstances, but I was in a book store earlier and came across a Harry Potter book. My immediate thought upon looking at the cartoon cover was, "That's not Harry Potter!" Now I know Harry Potter was a book series long before it was a film franchise, and so rights to film-related stuff is seperate from the books , but nonetheless it got me wondering if Trek's "visual" rights are seperate from those to use the characters' names, locales, ship names etc that make up Trek's copyrighted universe - and if one day (presumably as a cost-cutting measure), we'll see a Kirk on the cover of an officially-licenced Trek novel who resembles neither William Shatner nor Chris Pine? Or maybe a USS Enterprise which doesn't quite match any TV/film incarnation of the ship?

Last edited by F. King Daniel; September 16 2011 at 11:36 PM.
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Old September 16 2011, 07:23 PM   #2
Stevil2001
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

I don't know the answer to this question, but the BBC seem to have had short-term rights to some aspects of Billie Piper's image, for example. Pictures of Rose still turn up inside books, I think, but reprints of books where she was on the cover now omit her and just show the Doctor.
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Old September 16 2011, 07:38 PM   #3
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

The rights to use actors' likenesses on Trek products varies from actor to actor, depending upon the contracts they and their agents negotiated. Some actors have full approval rights, meaning they get to sign off or reject any use of their likeness; others have limited approval privileges; some have none. It's all handled on a case-by-case basis via the CBS Consumer Products licensing office.
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Old September 16 2011, 08:02 PM   #4
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

Does it make a difference if an actual photo of an actor is used, versus an artist's depiction of the character whom the actor portrayed? For instance, the Typhon Pact novels all have pictures of characters which, I assume, are all taken directly from stock or promo photos of the actors and then digitally edited. But many novels use art depicting characters that was obviously created from scratch. This is more common in older novels, but also some more recent ones have used art such as Kira's picture on Unity and Garak on A Stitch in Time. Obviously, the art covers are portraying characters whose likeness is based on the actors that portray them. But do the actors have the same kind of input on whether a book cover can feature a piece of art depicting a character who is the intellectual property of Paramount, even if that character's appearance is based on the actor, as they would on a book featuring an actual photo of the actor like the Typhon Pact series does?
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Old September 16 2011, 08:14 PM   #5
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

^ It's too complicated to detail the specifics that minutely. The only answer I can offer is, "It depends." Some actors' contracts permit them to vet any representation of their likeness; others have pre-approved certain sets of photo reference; some have no approval rights at all. In some cases, using an illustration makes a difference, but in most it doesn't.
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Old September 16 2011, 08:20 PM   #6
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

My understanding was that a likeness is a likeness -- if you don't have the right to use a photo, you don't have the right to use an accurate painting or drawing either. That's why the Harry Mudd who appears in DC's TOS comics only looks broadly similar to Roger C. Carmel.
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Old September 16 2011, 08:58 PM   #7
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

This is not an new issue. When Marvel did their Planet of the Apes comic book adaptation back in the seventies, they didn't have the rights to use Charlton Heston's image so they just drew Taylor as a generic leading man.

And I can think of at least a few tie-in projects (which shall go nameless) where the publisher discovered that they didn't necessarily have to rights to use one or more of the actors on the cover. I actually pulled out of a deal once, when I discovered that Tor was going to have to pay extra to put the star of the show on the cover!
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Old September 16 2011, 09:06 PM   #8
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
Bare with me.
no thanks. i will bear with you though.
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Old September 16 2011, 11:33 PM   #9
F. King Daniel
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

^Ugh. I can't believe I did that.
David Mack wrote: View Post
The rights to use actors' likenesses on Trek products varies from actor to actor, depending upon the contracts they and their agents negotiated. Some actors have full approval rights, meaning they get to sign off or reject any use of their likeness; others have limited approval privileges; some have none. It's all handled on a case-by-case basis via the CBS Consumer Products licensing office.
But are those likenesses and approvals linked to the characters they played on the shows, or just images of the actor/actress? Could William Shatner reject a Pocket Books' recast Kirk on the cover of a novel set in the Original Series universe?
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Old September 17 2011, 12:43 AM   #10
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

Steve Mollmann wrote: View Post
I don't know the answer to this question, but the BBC seem to have had short-term rights to some aspects of Billie Piper's image, for example. Pictures of Rose still turn up inside books, I think, but reprints of books where she was on the cover now omit her and just show the Doctor.
Seriously? Does that mean those early novels featuring the Ninth and Tenth Doctors with Rose now lack Billie Piper's image on their covers?
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Old September 17 2011, 01:12 AM   #11
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
But are those likenesses and approvals linked to the characters they played on the shows, or just images of the actor/actress? Could William Shatner reject a Pocket Books' recast Kirk on the cover of a novel set in the Original Series universe?
No, Shatner would not be entitled to approvals on images of Chris Pine. Approvals are not linked to the characters' likenesses, only those of the actors themselves.
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Old September 17 2011, 01:30 AM   #12
F. King Daniel
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

David Mack wrote: View Post
KingDaniel wrote: View Post
But are those likenesses and approvals linked to the characters they played on the shows, or just images of the actor/actress? Could William Shatner reject a Pocket Books' recast Kirk on the cover of a novel set in the Original Series universe?
No, Shatner would not be entitled to approvals on images of Chris Pine. Approvals are not linked to the characters' likenesses, only those of the actors themselves.
I didn't mean Chis Pine, but some generic Kirk in place of Shatner.

But thanks, that did answer my question.
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Old September 17 2011, 04:13 AM   #13
Stevil2001
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

TheAlmanac wrote: View Post
Steve Mollmann wrote: View Post
I don't know the answer to this question, but the BBC seem to have had short-term rights to some aspects of Billie Piper's image, for example. Pictures of Rose still turn up inside books, I think, but reprints of books where she was on the cover now omit her and just show the Doctor.
Seriously? Does that mean those early novels featuring the Ninth and Tenth Doctors with Rose now lack Billie Piper's image on their covers?
So I've heard-- pictures on Amazon typically have the original covers. But here's the cover for the audiobook of The Monsters Inside, which is just out.
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Old September 19 2011, 05:55 PM   #14
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

David Mack wrote: View Post
The rights to use actors' likenesses on Trek products varies from actor to actor, depending upon the contracts they and their agents negotiated. Some actors have full approval rights, meaning they get to sign off or reject any use of their likeness; others have limited approval privileges; some have none. It's all handled on a case-by-case basis via the CBS Consumer Products licensing office.

Perhaps we could do a study of covers - and try to extrapolate who does not like to see their images on book covers.
Just off the bat - it seems that Worf has been on a lot of covers.
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Old September 19 2011, 06:19 PM   #15
DS9forever
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Re: Actors' likenesses on covers

^ Memory Beta has categories of novel covers by series which could help you:

http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Ca..._novel_covers)

http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Ca..._novel_covers)
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