Sometimes, I want this industry to die just to piss them off.
He took his dream job, writing Superman, but once he did, he found he couldn't live with it. There's like a zillion tv shows and movies with this exact plot.Dude sold out his morals and now wants to make a stand on those same morals. No matter how you try to slice it, while the message in itself may have resonance, it feels trite for HIM to be making such a glorious show of things and suddenly standing as some form of avatar for creator's rights. And indeed, if this wasn't his intention....well, he didn't have to go about this in such a public manner, did he?
He didn't do it in such a public manner - he did it over twitter, the same place he has been consistently knocking DC over these very issues without any public reaction. How was he to know this time would be any different?
He's a guy who took a job with a company, and then decided he couldn't reconcile himself with some things that company has done. Remember, when he was writing Superman, he didn't know of Before Watchmen.
There were no contracts.
Back of the check contracts are shoddy - you've got to sign away your rights after you've done the work, to get the money for said work. And again, at the recent trial, Marvel couldn't produce any check with a contract from the early days with Kirby, let alone one signed by Kirby. The artists who gave testimony against Marvel said the contracts got put on the checks at a later date, and that none of them heard of Work For Hire until much later.What really gets me is that under US copyright law, the Kirby estate should be legally able to terminate their half of the copyrights. The checks Marvel sent to Kirby also included a provision on the back whereby endorsing it he gave up all rights forever. Some judges have tossed those out for being not legally binding. At this point, Marvel could just act like an adult and settle with the Kirby estate. But instead, they are going to fight tooth and nail to avoid giving the estate of the guy who built their company his due.
The court ruled in favour of the Siegels on copyright termination. DC responded by launching a lawsuit against the Siegels lawyer - delaying their need to pay/reach agreeement, and also opening them up to get it so that the ruling in the Siegels family favour isn't binding.It's the same with DC and Siegel and Schuster. Under US law, they should able to terminate the copyright on the content of Action #1 and a few other stories. But DC won't settle with them, or reach a deal. They are going to fight them tooth and nail, even though this property has made them rich.
Here's an only slightly confusing explanation of how it went down./
I believe these were the documents he signed to get the money that had been promised him as part of the Captain America settlement.*
The Kirby's are appealing the decision.
* The article linked to says the signed declarations are from 1972 and 1975. I thought it was 1969 and 1972 he signed them - the first time in an agreement as part of the Joe Simon lawsuit for Captain America (Jack thought he'd get a fair chunk of change for signing ownership to Marvel, but was only rewarded a small amount), and a second time in 1972, when Martin Goodman sold the company, he signed again in exchange for actually getting the money he had been promised the first time he signed.
I may be confused on the dates though, or getting different contracts mixed up in my head.
Interestingly enough, in the 80's, when Marvel was procrastinating over returning artwork to Kirby that was legally he is, they tried to get him to sign a third agreement that they owned everything, which he refused to do as it was for artwork Marvel had no right to be holding.
Back then, Marvel obviously didn't think the other two retroactive agreements were solid enough... and y'know, if everything was all above board, why did they keep needing Kirby to sign documents saying it was all theirs?
As for your novel comparison, don't forget there's aspiring writers out there penning articles for company owned papers, magazines and blogs to pay the bills too.
Last edited by okpanic; 04-30-2012 at 02:06 AM.
As has been mentioned, in the case of Kirby, there doesn't seem to be a contract, and with Moore, he was lied to about what the contract did, and what the companies intentions were.
Neither Kirby or Moore were pitching for someone else's sandbox, were they? They were creating sandboxes, that others then claimed ownership of.If you want to create an original work instead of playing in somebody else's sandbox, you self publish or pitch and hope something hits which leaves you with enough slack. That seems pretty fair to me.
I know you aren't specifically talking about their cases, but that is why Roberson quit.
There is a difference between an article, and a work of fiction.As for your novel comparison, don't forget there's aspiring writers out there penning articles for company owned papers, magazines and blogs to pay the bills too.
Also, the writers of those articles? They have more protections and ownership than most comic book creators.
Assuming that Marvel and DC operate like other creative enterprises, or that they operated 'all above board', shows some gaps in your knowledge of comic book history.
The thing about comics, and comic publishing is that it spun out of the pulp magazines of the 20s and 30s, not the book publishing industry. The format they followed in those days was 'work for hire' where the magazines owned the stories they commissioned. Since then the comic industry has found this format lucrative, especially when the age of the shared universe came about, because it meant they could easily stock their respective worlds with characters that they could pull out and use as needed to drive sales. These shared universe concepts don't work when you don't own all the characters. So the work-for-hire practice has stuck for as long as the bulk of comic creations is tied to shared universes. If it wasn't for the Marvel and DC universes and the nessisity to tie eveything together as a single sellable package, the comic industry might have managed to outgrow this.
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