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Home > Letters to CR

Mitchell Senft On The Gary Friedrich Situation
posted February 15, 2012
 

You're over-reacting to the Friedrich screwing by Marvel. At best, you're reacting prematurely. In no particular rode:

First, I've only parsed stuff; generally Saturday is comics news day, the rest of the week isn't.

Next, when we say Marvel, we're implying it came directly from Marvel. Or in this case, maybe Disney. Or far most likely, Marvel's law firm did this on auto-pilot, maybe to rack up a little more billables. It's very, very, very common for the winner on a summary judgment motion to submit a judgment. And when it does happen, when a judgment does get entered, it's very rarely executed on. And if Team Marvel does bother to execute, they should find -- assuming reporting has been accurate -- that Friedrich's judgment-proof so there will be no collection because there's nothing to collect.

Now, if anyone wants to whine about salt in the wound, I'll go along with that. Personally, I found the decision tossing the case unpersuasive. I mean, I understand the logic: In 1978, Friedrich signed away whatever rights he has in any creations for the promise of possible future work. If I recall my contract law, that may or may not be legally sufficient consideration for the agreement to be actually binding. Sadly, the judge said there was agreement per which Friedrich signed away any ownership interest he had and 'Nuff said. No need to stop and consider whether the agreement was legally binding or not. If the support is there, I'd love to see an appeal. I think if Friedrich got the decision tossed, there's a possibility that his claim has actual merit. (On the regain copyright scale, Friedrich's claim struck me as being far closer to the Siegel & Shuster end of the spectrum than the Kirby end.) Of course, it's not *my* money that would be financing this. Too, there's still a work for hire issue, maybe.

Of course, the moral matter is something else entirely.

So to sum up: Marvel did nothing crappy; their (or Disney's') lawyers did something common under the circumstances: odious but common and, sadly, impersonal. And other than being odious, should cost Friedrich nothing because according to the press, he's $17,000 short.

Or put this way: Everyone is upset over appearances but there's precious little substance in the smoke.

Here's the crappy comics news from the last week or so bothering me far more: The claim that Alan Moore is some sort of hypocrite on the Watchmen thing.