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Marvel refuses to let family use Spider-Man on 4-year-old's headstone

A family's quest to gain permission from Marvel Entertainment to place an image of Spider-Man on their son's grave has been refused.

Lloyd Jones from Barming wanted to use the copy-righted image on the gravestone in Maidstone Cemetery of his four-year-old son Ollie, who passed away last December after losing a two-year battle with leukodstrophy, a rare genetic disease. Ollie was a huge Spider-Man fan.

Mr Jones was gutted at the decision and said: "I really wasn't expecting this. I felt sure they would allow it."

Ollie Jones smiles with his dad Lloyd
Ollie Jones smiles with his dad Lloyd

Maidstone council said copyright permission would be needed first.

But the family heard this week from the Walt Disney Company - which owns the Marvel franchise - that the entertainment giant was refusing permission because they didn't want their characters to be associated with death.

Mr Jones said: "That makes no sense to me. Characters die in their films.

A scene from Ollie's funeral
A scene from Ollie's funeral

"I think this is all about money. Ollie's last holiday was at Disneyland. He loved Spider-Man and we had bought him all the toys.

"But now he has died and we won't be spending any more money, they don't care."

The company's response to the family read: "We extend our sincere condolences. If we played a small part in Ollie's happiness we are honoured.

"Generations of fans have responded to our characters with the same wonder and delight that Ollie did. In fact, many believe the characters to be real.

"We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy.

"For that reason, we follow a policy that began with Walt Disney himself that does not permit the use of characters on headstones, cemetery or other memorial markers or funeral urns."

Ollie loved Spiderman.Image supplied by Sony Pictures
Ollie loved Spiderman.Image supplied by Sony Pictures

Mr Jones said he was receiving hundreds of messages every day from people giving their support or suggesting ways of overcoming the ban.

He said: "Some suggest that if we altered Spider Man's appearance slightly, it might not breach copyrightrules. I don't know if that is the case; I might get a lawyer to look into it."

Meanwhile Mr Jones' old school chum Michael Farrow has started an online petition urging Disney to change its mind. It already has more than 860 signatures.

The Kent Messenger has also tried tweeting the stars who have appeared in Marvel super-hero films to ask them to support the campaign.

But the only good news so far has come from local firm, Gallaghers, who have offered to donate the rag-stone for the headstone if permission can be obtained.
Mr Jones said he was touched by "their very kind offer."

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