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#467635 - 06/06/01 10:22 AM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
Jamie Coville Offline
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Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 660
Another thing about those 'contracts' stamped on the back of the cheques. Many freelancers didn't agree to it, so they scribbled over it, making the 'contract' null and void and then signed the cheque to get their money.




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#467636 - 06/06/01 12:05 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
ScottChantler Offline
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Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Let me see if I can shed some light on the whole "rights" things for those of you who are having trouble understanding it.

Legally, anytime you create an original artistic work, you own it. There are lots of things you can do to help legally protect this right, such as having it "officially" copyrighted or trademarked. But the fact is that by the simple act of creating it, you are the legal copyright owner of the work.

The only exception to this is if you happen to be employed by a company. In this case, whatever you create under the terms of your employment belongs to the company. This is what is meant by "work for hire". Under such an agreement, you are not the creator of a work, the company is.

Most comic books creators, past and present, are freelancers. They are NOT employees, in the eyes of the law, because they do not have a salary, draw a pension or health benefits, nor do they work at the company's place of business.

Many companies (comic book publishers in particular) abuse freelancers by offering them work-for-hire contracts, which is not outright illegal, but is certainly unethical, because it considers freelancers employees for the purpose of copyright only. They're giving up their rights of authorship without any of the benefits, pension, salary, etc., that should go along with it.

Now naturally, if you get an assignment to draw Batman, DC Comics is going to want that be done under a work-for-hire agreement, because after all, they own Batman, not you. And that's fine, but creators should be aware of what they're giving up by such an arrangement and charge big bucks for that kind of work.

Mr. Evanier has pointed out during other times that this topic has popped up, that it IS possible to work out work-for-hire agreements that are fair to both parties: where the creator is guaranteed name credit, royalties, a degree of creative control, and other perks associated with authorship. Creators should make certain that these things ARE in their contract, though, because without them, the company isn't required to so much as acknowledge that you exist.

The important thing to remember about rights is that they can only be sold or given away by a written agreement. As others have said, I wonder how many of the industry's pioneers had contracts that explicitly signed over the rights to the characters they had created? My guess is probably not many.

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Scott Chantler
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#467637 - 06/06/01 12:48 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
D Eric Carpenter Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 55
Loc: indianapolis, IN, USA
Once again copyright rears its head and I'm called forth. I really have other interests! Honest! Someday I'll post on some other subject.

I just have two issues I want to cover: the work-for-hire status prior to 1976, and the stamping of checks.

Prior to 1976, Work-For-Hire acted in the opposite method it does today. If a company hires you to create something for them, they would have owned the creation completely, regardless of whether or not a contract said so. So any time a comic company hired you to create something, they would own it. While I'm no expert on the history, with Stan Lee acting as Editor in Chief of a comic company, anything he created for the company would have been owned by the company. It may not have been fair to the creators, but it was the law.

After 1976, the requirement changed. The default position was that, absent an agreement, a creation was NOT a work-for-hire and would therefore be owned by the person who did the creating.

As for stamping the checks in the post '76 days--it's just not good contract law. You can't add additional requirements to a contract after a party has completed their side of the agreement. If you mow my lawn for $25, I owe you the $25. I can't write you a check and put on the back 'by signing this check you also agree to pave my driveway.' There's no additional consideration for the additional work. I can't be certain, but I'd be willing to bet that any court cases regarding the back of a check would have been struck down on contract law rather than copyright or any other issue.

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#467638 - 06/06/01 01:03 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
Dirk Deppey Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/99
Posts: 524
Loc: Seattle, WA, USA
I can assure you that Marvel was still trying to pass off those "contract on the back where you endorse them" checks as late as the mid-80s. I was friendly with a comics shop owner who'd written a graphic novel during that period, and she had to fight with the company to get paid after they'd sent her just such a check; eventually she got an apology and was told that they were just old leftover checks, but the copyright date on the Spiderman logo on the front of the check read for the current year....
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#467639 - 06/06/01 02:00 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
pureghetto Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 87
Quote:
I said:
"As for creator rights, since all fictional characters become the property of whoever bought it, I hardly think that the creator (unless it is still the guy who owns it) has any rights whatsoever."

you said:
Really? Well, can you show us the contract that shows where DC bought Superman? Hey, how about that contract that Kirby signed re: the Marvel characters? Oh, yes, Marv Wolfman giving Nova over to Marvel? You got that one?

Dude, the point is those rights were never given, they were stolen! The creators lost out on millions of dollars because of greedy and near-illegal business practices. The only way they could have fought was in a court of law, but guess what? They had no money thanks to the same corps that screwed them in the first place. As I said before, if you want to help these people, send 'em money.


oh, so I was under the impression that since DC funded the cash to make Superman, they owned Superman. Is this more accurate...if at all slightly?

Or was it like this:

"I drawed a superman"
"Okay, we publish"
"ok"
two years later
"I want make change"
"no. my superman"
"no, my superman. I drawed it"
---lawsuit---

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#467640 - 06/06/01 02:23 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
snoid Offline
Member

Registered: 02/26/99
Posts: 2205
I know I'm going to come off like the bad guy here by posting this,but I really can't believe that someone like Jack Kirby did'nt know what he was doing in the sixty's.In the begining,sure he had no ideal how the companies worked,but by the sixty's he was an old pro.He had to have known anything he created for Marvel would become their sole proterty.This does not excuse Marvel or any other company for screwing over people, and Jack got screwed over more then most.It just never sat right with me that all the old artist who built DC and Marvel, did'nt know what was happening, how could they not?
Terry
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#467641 - 06/06/01 02:27 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
DC did not fund the creation of Superman. Superman was created then offered to what-is-now-DC to publish.

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#467642 - 06/06/01 03:45 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
Aether Paladin Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 79
Loc: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by D Eric Carpenter:
As for stamping the checks in the post '76 days--it's just not good contract law. You can't add additional requirements to a contract after a party has completed their side of the agreement.


Actually, the legality varies from state to state. In states where it's held to be legal, I believe the theory is if the receiving party finds the new/addtional terms unacceptable, they have the courts as adequate relief.

Now I admit I'm -only- referring to small scale stuff - this loophole can be used to hoodwink someone by writing "PAID IN FULL" on an installment payment check, and I've seen such a case upheld in California, in small claims court - and if you know law as well as you seem to, you =know= this kind of thing can change at the drop of a hat - but AFAIK, it's not an automatic disqualification legalwise.

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#467643 - 06/06/01 04:19 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
Aether Paladin Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 79
Loc: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by snoid:
I know I'm going to come off like the bad guy here by posting this,but I really can't believe that someone like Jack Kirby did'nt know what he was doing in the sixty's.It just never sat right with me that all the old artist who built DC and Marvel, did'nt know what was happening, how could they not?
Terry


I think in a conversation like this, the worst you come across as is uninformed; asl ong as you admnit you don't know/aren't sure, there's nothing "bad" about that.

The problem is companies and repsresentatives have away of smokescreening, doubletalking, and outright lying about what the creator's getting in terms of consideration.

I heard Nadine Messner-Loebs (wife of Bill) go on publically at length about the fact that First Comics essentially lied through their teeth about creator's rights, promising full ownership to creators and even crowing about buying E-Man from Charlton to give it to Cuti and Staton while they secretly owned everything from the getgo, and nobody knew it until years after they had secured ownership for the company (according to Ms. Messner-Loebs, it was the TV deal for JON SABLE, FREELANCE that tipped people off).

I've seen Ivan Velez jr. say Milestone Media did the same thing to him on BLOOD SYNDICATE, promising him "considerations" the contract didn't live up to. I've heard similar charges leveled at Malibu and its ancillary imprints, though not as publicly as the examples I've offered.

Also, companies like to offer "incentives", "promises" of payments that are actually only promises of
-intention- to pay under certain circumstances, circumstances they'll never have to face(like sales over 3,000,000) or clauses by which they can opt out with a minimal payment.

All I'm saying is, there's basically an infinite number of ways Marvel may have offered Kirby something that was nothing and pretended it was something, even while making it clear they would hold ownership of the works, amd if Kirby's "many years of experience" weren't "many years of experience as a =lawyer=", he'd never know the difference.

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#467644 - 06/06/01 04:35 PM Re: CREATORS RIGHTS
iusetobekb Offline
Member

Registered: 06/03/01
Posts: 282
Loc: hawaii
Quote:
Originally posted by Kayo:
So this means that you don't really care about the rights of these creators and that you were just posting this as a way to provoke more Todd talk?

You really should feel ashamed of yourself.



Don't think so.I did'nt bother typing a 20 page list because you people TURN EVERYTHING in to a gaiman/ mcfarlane issue.I'm surprise d this did'nt.Instead it turned into every wannbe comicbook creator showing contempt for 2 people who got a little money,unless you think cindy adams is a good source for the happenings of comics,then stanlee made more than marvel itself.

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