Man Who Invented Papa Emeritus Reveals Tobias Forge Doesn't Exactly Own the Rights to Character

It was a verbal agreement with one of the Nameless Ghouls who is no longer in the band, Peter Hallje says.

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Man Who Invented Papa Emeritus Reveals Tobias Forge Doesn't Exactly Own the Rights to Character

Among other interesting details, Tobias Forge's formal response to the lawsuit filed against him by former Ghost bandmates contained an explanation that the character of Papa Emeritus was not Tobias' idea.

Instead, the man credited for the invention of Papa is Peter Hallje, a Swedish musician who was friends with Ghost members back in the day and who shared the idea of Papa with Martin Persner, a former Nameless Ghoul known as Omega.

In the lawsuit response, Forge claimed Peter "formally approved" that Ghost has the license to use the character in 2010.

However, in a new interview with Barametal, Hallje claimed that the "formal approval" is nothing more than a verbal agreement saying (via Metal Sucks): 

"Martin Persner was one of the few people I [told about] the idea for Papa Emeritus, because we still had a good relationship and I followed the Magna Carta Cartel [the band that's basically the precursor of Ghost] with some interest because I felt a certain affinity with the music they were up to.

"Tobbe was with the band and played with them a little, I think, but I had absolutely no contact with him. We did not see each other at all between 2003 and 2011 or 2012. This means that it was Martin who knew Papa Emeritus, and took up the idea with Tobbe.

"I think they both realized that Papa Emeritus was the piece of the puzzle needed to make Tobbe's Ghost idea interesting.

"Before then it was just a secret band with catchy songs, ordinary metal lyrics and some local fans on MySpace.

"Then Martin got in touch with me and told me that he thought Papa Emeritus would fit amazingly well with Ghost, and asked if it was okay that they [used the idea].

"I said OK, because I got the idea that Martin had been involved in Ghost, and it was on that premise that I surrendered my concept. In this way they were able to continue working with the whole package: 'We have come back from hell with a mission: rock music,' which was a part of my original idea.

"I told Tobbe at some point when they were in Gothenburg much later, around 2014 or something like that, that I thought he had given little too little credit given the success, but he said bluntly that he thought that since he had said 'thank you' on a previous occasion that the matter was resolved.

"Tobbe knew then that he did not own the copyright or trademark for Papa Emeritus. It is clear that there is a Ghost - the whole band - who have [worked under] the name, but he has always known that I am the copyright owner.

"I have given verbal consent to 'business,' as he so nicely put it, to use the name and concept, but that's it. And since the deal was made with Martin Persner and no one else, I would have considered a different attitude if I were Tobbe."

Explaining how he came up with the character, Peter noted:

"Around 2005 I sketched a stage character for myself to be called Papa Emeritus. I studied philosophy at university then and began to ponder the title 'Professor Emeritus,' which is the title of a retired professor and as you see from time to time in the media when journalists do not get any active researchers to interview.

"'Papa' is simply what the Italians call the Pope. The thing with Papa Emeritus based on a pope is that he can never be retired - this was before Benedict XVI abdicated - without the pope’s man until you die as well.

"And then I thought that a former pope, that a pope or Papa Emeritus, must surely then have been waiting and anywhere. And not a fan had my retired Pope was upstairs, so to speak.

"[Upstairs meaning that] the Pope is working as pope until he dies. Then a retired Pope then one who has died and come back. And the whole concept of Papa Emeritus is that he has not ended up in the sky - upstairs.

"First I had an idea of a classic blues rock [image] a la Reverend Horton Heat or Danko Jones. In the sketch, he would have a white clergyman shirt with a black daisy, i.e. inverted.

"But that's not as papal, so instead [it ended up being] a rock pope who returned from the dead in the cellar. There was not much more to the idea than a well-developed sketch, so I would be the first Papa Emeritus - not Tobias Forge."

The musician also commented on the current state of Ghost, saying:

"I've known about [the disorder within the band] all the time. [The other members] have hardly ever been treated right by Tobbe; he held them hostage because he constantly ran one step ahead of the others and has been responsible for all business contacts.

"Though [I don't know as much about what happened over the past year], because they almost never were at home in Sweden.

"Both yes and no [asked if he was surprised the issue has gone to court]. I have full sympathy with Simon and Mauro, who had been so damn pulled by the nose by Tobbe.

"However, I can not really understand how Tobbe could make such smash miss as he did when he presented one rogue contract proposal after another.

"He is still a true adept strategist, and this should have been foreseen. He had been able to get more and more success with Ghost if he had not become obsessed with the idea of grabbing everything himself, because now the magic is gone."

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    He got the idea in 2005 and he decided to bitch about it in 2017?  Come on! He didn't mind when Ghost were struggling. Now that they're famous and there is potential for some money grabbing, all sorts of obscure "artists" are rising up from the dirt to claim their unfair share. Have some dignity, folks.
    Well.. Ghost are pretty successful, "IP theft" isn't a huge problem you extend to lawsuits until people start making money off something you believe is your idea.
    No argument there, you're actually making my point. Money is the defining factor, nothing else. So when you're acting like you're butthurt because someone stole your beloved creation, then you're an asshole in my book. But the law is the law, so I guess that if this guy has actually registered the name before Forge, then he's gonna get his due. It's the hypocrisy of the matter that annoys me. It seems that Ghost have always had such issues in the past (e.g. the whole "B.C." predicament) so that kind of reinforces my opinion (see my other post in this thread) that they simply had no idea this project was gonna become so huge. So Forge didn't bother much to cover his ass (legally) and now he's paying for it. Personally, if I were Forge I'd just change the fucking name. They already "change" Papas every time they release a record, so it shouldn't be that hard to do.
    Hahah so it would be better if he tried to sue them while they were unknown so they have to decist/go to jail? 
    I'll be seeing Ghost tomorrow with Iron Maiden. Looking forward to seeing this incarnation of the band. In spite of all the litigation, im glad theyre still touring.
    I saw them in the Maximus festival, they were pretty good despite some sound Issues. If I have to be critical of the actual Ghouls now is that the older ones kinda knew a little bit better the vibe of the band, that theatrical theme of being the "satanist cult" or whatever and put that on the stage.  The current memebers act like its any other big rock act and while is not bad I would say its just incorrect, it doesn't really fit at all with what Tobias stated in the past wanted to deliver with Ghost using the costumbes and everything
    Now everyone nobody knows who they are take the opportunity to jump in the Ghost lawsuit bandwagon. This guy had an idea he never trademarked of copyrighted, expressly allowed some other guys to use it over a decade ago and now makes his apparition to try to spread the fire. I don't think Mr. Forge is a saint, but some things are getting close to ridiculous.
    90% sure that ghost is gonna end after this lawsuit. Surely tobias will continue with another name or something but the persona magic is gone it will just be tobias forge band playing metal songs
    He admitted that he gave verbally the rights to Martin. Martin setup deals with tobias. and later he states that he never asked for him to stop using it in any form. Furthermore no one was even mentioning this until the whiny members of the band started asking for more than their contracts allowed. (don't sign something if you're not happy with it, I mean how stupid can you be?) Tobias doesn't need to change or act any differently he is fully legal to do as he is regardless if pete wants to get butt hurt with his friend who apparently can't read a contract... In a worse case scenario he would not be able to use the character in select countries that do not accept the form of agreement, none of which would effect his proceeds in a significant manner.  It's truly amazing what pitiful lengths these guys are going just because they made moronic decisions.
    Besides that, he only says he came up with the idea, not that he copyrighted it. The verbal agreement he disvalues has infinitely more value than the non-existent copyrights he claims he has. In fact, this would only have the smallest chance or having any success in court if they processed them on the US because the jury makes it unpredictable whether or not the facts are proven, literally everywhere else in the world Forge would win. Not to say he gave an idea: how much exactly that idea shaped the character of Papa Emeritus? Was it just something like "an anti-Catholic Pope called Papa Emeritus that dresses like the Pope but black and uses a skull makeup"? That's pretty vague to say the least.
    Well characters as soon as you have it on paper are copyright just like any original drawing you make (I'm an artist, had to deal with this a bit) But yeah it sounds like the guys taking him to court are trying to get everyone possible involved just to grasp at as many straws as possible to get something out of Tobias.
    After reading all these articles Tobias kinda seems autistic, and I'm not saying that to bash him...
    I think he's having trouble dealing with the fame and success of Ghost. I mean think about it, if you formed a band with black metal imagery and lyrics, and soft doom metal music with beach boys vocals, would you ever believe that some years later you'd win a fuckin' Grammy? I wouldn't. I think it just started as a weird experiment that went unexpectedly well and he just can't manage it.
    I think it's the other way around Tobias has put a lot of faith in this project and others didn't think seriously it would be that successful and become that big. That would explain why Tobias took care of everything and why the others suddenly wake up and look at the business side of things. It's only now that fame and money are here that everyone wants a part of the cake. Problem is, it looks like they didn't give a shit about all this 10 years ago.
    Could be. I guess that the outcome of all these legal actions will prove your point or mine. If all these lawsuits get thrown out the window because Tobias has covered his bases, then it means that your intuition is correct. For now we're all talking out of our asses. My main argument for the theory that Forge didn't cover his bases is the whole "Ghost B.C." situation, but I guess that can happen with common names such as Ghost (see what happened to Rhapsody for instance). So your guess is as good as mine.
    Could be I guess, just recognize some of the things I notice in a relative with the same diagnosis...
    " It was a verbal agreement " don't even need to read the article, that's just the point when you lost buddy.
    Considering how bland this bands music is, the only thing that is keeping them going is drama it seems.
    Challenge time! Name a modern day metal band that is more creative and different than Ghost.
    That's what I love about Ghost. So many people complain that they're a Scooby Doo music/BOC/Pink Floyd/Black Sabbath ripoff band, yet there isn't a single band out there nowadays with such a creative and unique image with a distinct style. 
    Shining.  But since you ask like you already know the correct answer; your point is moot.
    Ok, let's put it to test. Band I don't know of, well I'm not really into black metal so forgive me. Google it and woops, at least two bands sharing that name - well, ok, "Ghost" isn't that original either, buuut - I'll assume you're referring to the seemingly more popular Swedish band. I've spent a while listening to their most popular songs, but even before that, I can already point out the first "sins" for the list: logo is a rip-off of one of the pioneer black metal bands - checked (Burzum); subject doesn't differ that much from every other black metal band - checked (well, some people claim it as a pioneer suicidal black metal band but truth is Mayhem was in that pool already long before this band had jumped in). Musically wise: tremolo picking - checked; vocals that sound like most black metal bands - checked; level of progression and riffs quite alike most other bands in the genre - checked. On the bottom line, don't take any of this as downlooking a band you probably enjoy, in fact even though this genre isn't my cup of tea I appreciated their music and I feel some uniqueness on the openness talking about such themes, also this is one of those genres whose bands follow up a lot of characteristics so it's normal from it not to differ that much musically speaking, but the fact is the band you mentioned doesn't stand out in any way. If I listened a black metal playlist featuring a song by Shining I don't think it would get my attention over all the others, let alone in the rock/metal genre in general. Look, I really like Ghost for years but that doesn't mean I'm their fan number 1 and that my point is no other band is as good or original as them. But, we're mostly living on a time metal bands tend to focus on existing sub genres and concepts built by other bands decades ago, yet Ghost is one of the few that have their uniqueness both musically and visually (not only talking about looks but also the theatrical shows and backstory of the band and its characters). Before you come in to say how alike they are to Death SS (which I'd say they are as much alike as to KISS or any other band using the characters concept) of course those ideas aren't entirely new, but they've made them differenciating enough, although it's in terms of music I'd mostly point that out.
    I'd say that the character Papa is a rip-off of Manson (the contact lense), Danzig or Michale Graves of Misfits (the corpse-paint/mask). The pope costume - again Manson did it, I believe in the Disposable Teens video, right? And now to the music - the lyrics are just standard satanic metal lyrics. Morbid Angel comes in mind. Even Faith+One (Cartman's christian band in South Park) comes in mind (joke). The melodies are pretty generic. Nothing new on that part, either. It is pretty much ABBA with distorted guitars. And Tobias even sounds like Michale Graves of Misfits, so much I thought it was his new band, at first. 
    Oh how I hope he loses the rights to the character! That would be sweet revenge. I bet a ton of you steeple will still call yourself fans too.
    I bought a used copy of Meliora on vinyl because Ghost was touring with Iron Maiden. I thought the album was really good.  Now, with all this drama, I'm starting to get really bored with this guy and don't really care what they do.   
    pretty sure Ugly Kid Joe came up with the" return from hell" concept. the end of "GODDAMN DEVIL" talks about it. not the character but the concept.
    I'd care more if the music was good. Not that it's bad, it's just nothing special. It's weird how people freak out as if knowing the real names of musicians somehow affects theor enjoyment of the tunes.
    Well it's not so much knowing their names as others trying to forcibly lift the curtain. There are people who do want to know and people who don't, and those who don't care either way. It doesn't change the music, but some people just want to keep the mystique and having names thrown in your face in a headline like this isn't fair to those people. "Oh just avoid the articles" I hear you say. Yeah they won't click the link if it says "Ghost members names inside" but when the headline is "Martin Persner is Omega" or "Papa Emeritus is really Tobias Forge" it's harder to avoid.
    Anyone remember back when Slipknot were anonymous and no one knew who was behind the masks? Seems like they're still going strong and can still throw the masks on to perform. In that way, I'm not worried about Ghost. I do worry about all this legal stuff, though, and would hate to see it bring down the empire that's been building up to this point.