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

January 26, 2010

Company Refutes Non-Payment Claims

People complaining about things on the Internet is a horrible base on which to build a story, but I do feel compelled to draw attention to this defense by a company called Bluewater from various (not-cited) rumblings and rumors that they're not paying folks what they're owed. As to the actual charges, it's either true or not that people are owed money: that doesn't get decided by arguing about it in chat rooms, that gets decided if someone sues for non-payment and there's a legal decision.

Where there's room for commentary is that the company official basically indicates in their defense that the contracts are of a specific, terrible kind. Such contracts tend to have two features: they hinge on a book becoming "profitable" before payment, and they're apparently work for hire. These kinds of contracts not only allow the company to define profitability in favorable terms (exactly what profitable means tends not to be revealed), but also, and this is important, affords the company the advantages of any non-directly quantifiable profit without recompense, including but not limited to the intellectual property involved. (It's sort of like if a company you and I might work for only paid the people that directly led to people writing checks to the company and everyone else worked for free.) I would warn anyone away from such contracts: you're not getting the money you deserve but the money it's decided you deserve, you may not be getting any money at all, there are multiple options now that tend not to be as demeaning, no creators of note and few of any kind have ever launched a career in this kind of "hey, we're be honest; we're giving you a foot in the door of the industry" deal although a handful have recovered from such circumstances, those kind of contracts make the industry less worthy of having a foot in its door even as you're doing it, and even though this matters to absolutely no one anymore, you're making things worse for the next guy.

At least that's my impression from the statement. I'd welcome the ability to look at a contract directly. I've reached out, but I haven't found one yet.

Chris Butcher and Johanna Draper Carlson have preceded me in commentary.
posted 7:00 am PST | Permalink

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