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

February 10, 2012

The 17000 Dollar, Industry-Wide Shudder

There are several wire stories out there on Marvel claiming $17,000 from writer Gary Friedrich based on his selling stuff related to Ghost Rider, the character to which he claimed authorship rights to the character, rights that have yet to be held up and supported by any court. The lawyers plan to appeal this matter, but more in that they continue to claim that the transfer of ownership that has been supported thus far is illegitimate.

The disturbing element, which has certainly not been lost on dozens of initial commentators and tweeters, is that this could represent a broader move from companies like Marvel in terms of pursuing creators making material related to characters they do not own. This could conceivably include the convention sketches through which many artists supplement their incomes and which drives a huge segment of the convention-going economy. A secondary consideration could be that Marvel seeking this kind of payment is a shot across the bow of any creator that might presume to sell material or even make appearances based on a claim to ownership over material when that claim has yet to be adjudicated -- or when it already has.

I'm not sure that a whole lot of folks expect Friedrich to have to pay the amount, given his apparent lack of resources and the horrific PR toll this could exact. Not that these companies care much for PR tolls. Plus you may recall that Marvel is apparently hurting for cash right now despite its multi-billion dollar movies and licensing revenues. Even though I'm skeptical, I'll admit that Friedrich seeing a on this pass based on the positive that this would be for the person that does it seems somewhat possible to me given his apparent, basic inability to pay and the fact that the message has been sent.
posted 6:00 am PST | Permalink

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