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#283370 - 09/28/99 09:16 PM "Tasini" Victory
JM Lofficier Offline
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Registered: 06/22/00
Posts: 289
Loc: Resea, CA, USA
As the person who virtually single-handedly fought to force HEAVY METAL to withdraw their CD-Rom Archives, I would like to take a half-minute to celebrate this great legal victory on behalf of freelancers everywhere. O wise judges etc.

JM

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#283371 - 09/28/99 11:00 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Greg McElhatton Offline
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Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 674
Loc: Vienna, VA
It is, indeed, a great victory. Bets on if Wizards of the Coast still tries to release that DRAGON #1-250 CD-ROM archive despite not having paid the appropriate reprint fees to the majority of the contributors? [img]http://207.69.158.95/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

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[This message has been edited by Greg McElhatton (edited 09-28-1999).]
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#283372 - 09/29/99 06:58 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Rick Veitch Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 3531
Loc: Vermont, USA
Anyone know of any other comics related CD-ROM collections in the works? It would seem that the recently released MAD compendium might cause DC some trouble now that Tasini has taken a new turn. In the non-comics world, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, with its collection, might have to go back and negotiate with freelancers as well.

And Jean-Marc, let us not forget Steve Bissette's contribution to the HEAVY METAL CD-ROM brouhaha!

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#283373 - 09/29/99 11:34 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Greg McElhatton Offline
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Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 674
Loc: Vienna, VA
Wizards of the Coast was attempting to publish a CD-ROM of DRAGON #1-250, which would have included (comics related) Phil Foglio's "What's New With Phil & Dixie", Larry Elmore's "SnarfQuest", Dave Trampier's "Wormy", and any other strip that ever ran in the magazine.

eluki bes shahar and James Lowder were leading a class-action lawsuit against WotC; I know they've got more of the details. I don't have Lowder's e-mail address handy, but eluki's page is at http://www.sff.net/people/eluki/ which has her contact information.

(When I get home tonight, Rick, I'll e-mail you with some more contact information.)

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Greg McElhatton * http://www.gregmce.com
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#283374 - 09/29/99 01:00 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Pierce Askegren Offline
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Registered: 09/04/99
Posts: 224
The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) brokered a settlement with Dragon regarding this issue -- basically, the Wizards would offer a one-time reprint payment to individual authors (and not just SFWA members) who had fiction in the pertinent magazines. I believe eluki bes shahar was instrumental in those negotations; she was on the SFWA Grievance Committee when the troubles began, though she left it later.

Obviously, the point is moot now. Instead, Wizards requires contributors sell them the rights up front, which sucks, but in a different way.

Details of the deal are available on the SFWA Web page (www.sfwa.org), but you may have to do some digging.
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#283375 - 09/29/99 02:47 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
JM Lofficier Offline
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Registered: 06/22/00
Posts: 289
Loc: Resea, CA, USA
I wasn't sure Steve wanted public credit for his actions in re objecting to the HEAVY METAL CD-Rom, but I'm glad to give him full credit for sounding the tocsin bell.

JM

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#283376 - 09/29/99 02:51 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Greg McElhatton Offline
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Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 674
Loc: Vienna, VA
The problem is, the WotC "settlement" wasn't a full one. Some authors were owed more than what WotC offered in terms of reprints, and have refused to sign it. In addition, this settlement was ONLY offered to people who had short-fiction stories...

Not covered were all non-fiction articles, artwork, comics, etc. WotC only did a half-hearted settlement with the fiction authors because they screamed the loudest.

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#283377 - 09/29/99 02:57 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
CW Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/29/99
Posts: 1
"As the person who virtually single-handedly fought to force HEAVY METAL to withdraw their CD-Rom Archives"

"I wasn't sure Steve wanted public credit for his actions in re objecting to the HEAVY METAL CD-Rom, but I'm glad to give him full credit for sounding the tocsin bell."

Anyone else you're leaving out? Or was it just Steve Bissette?

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#283378 - 09/29/99 03:56 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Mark Badger Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/99
Posts: 90
Loc: oaklnd, ca usa
Just want to point out, it was the "organized" freelancers who fought this war. The Writers Union is affiliated with the UAW just like the Graphic Artists Guild. It was the financial power of the UAW that made this victory possible. People ought to be saying thank you big labor...

and signing up with the Guild!

Mark Badger www.lemoncustard.com

where The Haunted Man starts and other fine e-comics live!

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#283379 - 09/29/99 06:11 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
The Tasini ruling, overturning the prior ruling (which was vague at best, and odious at worst), is indeed an event to celebrate!

Mark, you're right -- the Writer's Guild fought the legal battle. Jean-Marc was referring ONLY to the HEAVY METAL CD-Rom debacle of this past January, which was covered with considerable accuracy by the COMICS JOURNAL.

To clarify the postings above, you should all understand that, to our knowledge, Jean-Marc and Starwatcher was the ONLY faction to legally engage with Kevin Eastman and HEAVY METAL over the matter. With the prior Tasini ruling clouding the issue considerably, it was Starwatcher's affiliation with the Moebius material, which is protected by EUROPEAN copyright laws which permit no such assignation of rights to be assumed, that swayed the brief legal tussle over Kevin and the HM offices appropriating 20 years' worth of material without so much as a fare-thee-well.

To the best of my knowledge, I alone contributed $ (a modest sum, but all I could afford) to offset a bit of the legal costs Starwatcher rang up to fight the good fight. Jean-Marc's prompt action saved countless HM contributors considerable grief, and Kevin should kiss Jean-Marc's feet for saving HM in the considerable legal fees they would have suffered in the wake of this week's judgement.

It was Rick Veitch who initially alerted me to the situation; I promptly contacted a number of HM contributors in my circle of friends and associates, primary among them Jean-Marc. Though all expressed concern, Jean-Marc ALONE acted upon the matter, which was pressing: HM had already manufactured the CD-Roms, and were filling orders received via a mail-order ad in that month's issue of HM.

Despite the claims of Eastman and his HM cronies to TCJ, I was nothing but polite in my dealings with them. Our direct exchanges consisted only of two very cordial FAX letters to the HM offices, two conversations with Howard at the HM offices (the first friendly, the second from Howard quite angry, abusive, and insulting, though I remained polite throughout), and a personal FAX to Kevin which was an appeal to him to reconsider the matter and do the right thing. Kevin's response was angry, insulting, insisted I have no further contact with himself or his associates unless I go through his attorney, and made it clear he felt he had the right to produce the CD-Rom based solely on the then-current Tasini ruling.

Vindication at last.

All in all, it was a shameful affair. Jean-Marc should be commended for his efforts on behalf of the creative community. He did so at his own expense, to the benefit of all.

My comparatively modest efforts cost me personally -- hammering the final nail into the coffin of a friendship I once felt with Kevin -- but I regret nothing.

I am glad I stood up for the rights of myself and all other creators whose work would have been appropriated; I am glad I contacted Jean-Marc, who brought the necessary legal muscle to bear; and I still disdain the manner in which Kevin and HM conducted themselves, which was beneath contempt and decidedly contrary to the spirit and legal contracts that were the foundation of HEAVY METAL... or at least the HM Rick and I had worked with back in 1977-82.

That's for the record, folks.

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#283380 - 09/29/99 08:54 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
JM Lofficier Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/00
Posts: 289
Loc: Resea, CA, USA
As a footnote to Steve's clear and concise summary, I'd like to add that I was rather disappointed by Diamond's behavior in this matter.

Meaning that, I didn't expect them to automatically agree with me -- there are two sides to every story, and with the Tasini ruling on the books at the time, I certainly see how they could have had questions as to the basis for our legal objections to the HM CD-Rom.

But I expected them to *PAY ATTENTION* -- especially with legal papers flying around. Instead, I got vague meaningless noises & unreturned telephone calls.

Not what I'd deem professional behavior.

JM

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#283381 - 10/02/99 07:40 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
Beyond the specifics of the HM debacle, the Tasini ruling has profound ramifications for all future creative-media contracts, including all in the comics field. As Rick Veitch has pointed out to me in conversation this past week, even the presumably "locked down" properties like MAD will be impacted -- since it's highly unlikely (he said, understating the obvious) that Gaines specifically covered electronic rights in this original contracts, the recent DC MAD CD-Rom collection is a prime target for lawsuits and settlements (Don Martin, are you out there??).

ALL should be wary of contracts revised to include electronic rights. Such a clause should, in all fairness, prompt higher payment in exchange for the new media use, or at least some form of royalties. This is an issue as of THIS WEEK, so keep your eyes open, folks, and watch out what you sign.

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#283382 - 10/03/99 02:24 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Rik Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/99
Posts: 225
Quote:
.... I'd like to add that I was rather disappointed by Diamond's behavior in this matter...... Instead, I got vague meaningless noises & unreturned telephone calls.


Near as I can tell, that's the new Diamond policy about ANY problem. I think they may have learned it from President Clinton.

Rik

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#283383 - 10/03/99 10:22 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Don Markstein Offline
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Registered: 11/24/98
Posts: 1202
Loc: Earth
Disney contracts cover "all rights in the Universe, including technologies not yet invented". That's been the case at least since 1990, when I signed my first contract with them, and I suppose it's become pretty standard with the big media conglomerates. I make pretty good wages writing scripts for them, but am under no illusion that it's anything but wages. And I wouldn't even dream of putting anything into one of them that I might want later for myself.

Quack, Don

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#283384 - 10/05/99 03:06 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Rik Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/99
Posts: 225
Say, I'm not really clear on this case.
Could it be used for creators to claim they
hadn't sold the rights for video game versions of their characters?

Rik

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#283385 - 10/05/99 07:32 PM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Mark Badger Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/99
Posts: 90
Loc: oaklnd, ca usa
Just to be the grumpy old leftist,

Heroic vigilante battles against publishers/corporations are great when they occasionally end in a win.

BUT the only way creators are going to end up with any power in this universe is by being organized. "Tasini" happenned because of the power of the union. If you're not part of that union of creators making the laws that protect us, you allow the coporations to continue to role over us.

So you can join the union and protect creators rights in this day and age, or you can be part of the problem and from where I stand most comic book creators are very much part of the problem.

Mark Badger www.lemoncustard.com

where The Haunted Man starts and other fine e-comics live!

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#283386 - 10/06/99 11:03 AM Re: "Tasini" Victory
Greg McElhatton Offline
Member

Registered: 12/19/98
Posts: 674
Loc: Vienna, VA
Yes, definitely be wary of electronic rights clauses. AMAZING STORIES (and presumably as they're also owned by then, DRAGON) now has a clause in their fiction contracts which states they have the right to reprint your story electronically for the rest of eternity with no additional payments.

They've also stated that this is not negotiable. smirk

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Greg McElhatton * http://www.gregmce.com
The EXPO / SPX: http://www.spxpo.com
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