Here goes. Stephen Colbert, when he was on The Daily Show on Comedy Central, performed under the name STEPHEN COLBERT but he played a character that satirized TV reporters. Colbert described the character as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.” Colbert went on to host THE COLBERT REPORT playing a similar character to the one he played on The Daily Show.
Colbert went on to host The Late Show on another network and it was reported that the ‘character,’ the satirical TV reporter, remained the property of Comedy Central. Colbert performs on The Late Show as himself (or least he doesn’t assume the persona of a satirical TV reporter).
Last Week, Colbert the host brought back Colbert the reporter to do one of Colbert the reporter’s ‘signature’ (should I say ‘trademark’?) bits, The Word:
OK, yesterday, Colbert the host reported that The Comedy Channel had protested the use of Colbert the reporter, claiming copyright in the character.
This is plausible, as characters can be copyrightable. Apparently a car can be a copyrightable character (see the Batmobile case below). It makes the head swim as to what the character of Colbert the reporter consists of, given that the name STEPHEN COLBERT and Stephen Colbert’s appearance would seem not be part of that character. Interestingly, the part of the reporter character that would seem to belong to Comedy Central would be the mannerisms and behavior that satirize Bill O’Reilly. Plus a single raised eyebrow.
To take this one step further. Colbert the host threw the gauntlet down. He reported the dispute, and introduced Stephen Colbert, the twin cousin of Stephen Colbert the reporter (pause and enjoy the twin cousin joke).
Colbert the twin cousin of Colbert the reporter, also has a raised single eyebrow. And Colbert the host did a segment named The Werd, which, in his words, is ‘word’ but with an ‘e.’
Colbert the twin cousin appears to be a parody of a satire of Colbert the reporter.
Here is the recent Sherlock Holmes case:
Here is the Batmobile case: