Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 19, 2012

A Couple Of Additional Notes On Superman's Copyright Fate

If you're interested in matters regarding the Superman copyright and all of the creators rights issues on which those things, you should always read what Jeff Trexler has to say. The comments are sort of interesting in that they're not all one-sided defenses of the status quo, which in comics is a rare enough thing to deserve our praise. The one person that does embody that point of view isn't using their full name (naturally) and manages to employ a bigoted phrase in a summary appraisal of the situation. So good job there.

imageWhere do things stand right now? In terms of the cases themselves, Wednesday's ruling places a feverish amount of interest on the next court hearing regarding the Siegel Family's side of things. I believe that's November 5. While there will certainly be appeals no matter what happens, another win for Warner Brothers will certainly change the tone of the entire fight in a way a win for the Siegel Family likely wouldn't. We're already seeing changes in movie plans, which for some folks is all that matters.

I hope that cartoonists and comics readers pay attention to this story. It's not always pleasant, but it's instructive I think in terms of how companies like this tend to be operated and how people orient themselves towards such companies in response. This kind of thing isn't all the way in the past: the key factor in Wednesday's decision was a deal hacked out in the early 1990s, which isn't all that long ago for most people in comics. For all that things have improved, for all that there are better options now, comics continues to be an industry and art form soaked in exploitation, casual to grand, and that hasn't changed as much as anyone would like to think it has.

I find the story of the original iconic superhero creators and their families to be a tragic one. I will always think it was avoidable, and think a better outcome here is still possible if someone were to choose it. Mostly, though, I'm exhausted from negotiating a mindset where the pursuit of profit at all costs is held up as some sort of moral virtue, or at least an idea removed from other considerations, as something not a choice. There are choices you can make on such matters, there are ways to arrange your life that don't make you feel horrible, and it just may be that all the energy spent trying to talk people out of their defensive crouches may be better spent making sure any and all alternatives work as effectively as possible. A lot of what comes next is on us, a lot about what this all means is to be decided.
posted 5:00 pm PST | Permalink

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