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drowemos
02-02-2015, 12:58 PM
So I know I am stepping into a minefield here but I did want to get people opinions on the ownership of Intellectual Property. We are all aware of the Superman problem where the creator of Superman got very little in terms of the profits from the movies and merchandise. More recently the creator of Thanos didn't even get tickets to the movie he appeared in.

So let's say you are elected god king of the world and have the ability to force comic companies to create contracts with their talent as you decide. You don't have the ability to change the economics of comics, just the ability to set up any contract structure you want.

Given that a company must invest a great deal of capital and take a good deal of risk in the process of developing an IP, what is the fair terms for creator and company ownership of trademark and copyright?

What should the initial creator get?
What about the next writer on the series? And all future writers?
What control should the creator get over the setting and characters? What control should the company that invests developing them get?
What should the artist get?
How do you encourage a company to invest in a property yet not screw the creative talent?

Basically what is both fair and good business?

I am asking because I have been seriously considering getting a sizable loan and doing a bit more professional online publishing than I have in the past.

paul brian deberry
02-02-2015, 03:33 PM
I would make it simple.

What should the initial creator get?

You are the creator of X and from this day forward you will be known as the daddy of X. Sales generated from all books and merchandising will be shared with the creator of X with the higher sales percentage going to the publisher.

Movies/TV stuff the creator of X will get the Stan Lee treatment, basicly I will cast him in the movie, offer him a producer role. He can opt out of that for a tiny percentage of royalties.

What about the next writer on the series? And all future writers?

The next team on the book would get nothing. They are a work for hire. Beyond profits from book sales they are not entitled to any of the other stuff. There might be a rare circumstance (famous person working the title) or a clause added to the contract if the writer creates a character that gets his own book spin-off or movie/TV deal.

I would be sure to add incentives in the contract. Create the next Deadpool or X-Men and your great-grand children will be rolling in the money.

What control should the creator get over the setting and characters? What control should the company that invests developing them get?

The creator has 90% say on everything about the book. Until he doesn't and then he's just the divorced daddy. Watching.

What should the artist get?

The artist in most scenarios is work for hire. He's like the brother of the famous person. "Oh, you designed X - that's great."

He should receive book and merchandising profits.

How do you encourage a company to invest in a property yet not screw the creative talent?

Just create great stories. Remember that it's a business.

HouseStark
02-02-2015, 04:12 PM
It doesn't make business sense for Marvel or DC to give ownership to its creators, as hundreds of people may work on that IP down the line.

What's fair? There's no right answer to this. It's different for each person. What you get in a contract is what you ultimately settle for. Some people have a 50/50 ownership spilt between writer and artist. Some have 60/40. Whatever works for both parties.

If I were to do a contract today, for a script that I wrote, and if I didn't have any money, I'd give the artist 50% of the earnings, but not ownership (and only if they finish the project). Why? Because I don't want to tie up my property if the artist leaves. And a lot do, from my experience. I'd want to avoid the whole Walking Dead fiasco. The lesson here folks is: get everything in writing before any work is done. Period. That way there's no misunderstanding to what's being done by whom.

In a perfect world, I'd pay a page rate. Less headaches. In this scenario, the artist actually sees some cash money, as opposed to a long shot of getting paid.

If an artist doesn't like that deal, they don't have to take it. They can always develop their own idea and give a write a page rate. Most writers know would jump at the chance to work for free ... just to have someone illustrate their stuff ... at no cost to them. I know I would!

So, if I were a Godking, you get X for X amount of work. That's it. That's what I think is fair.

Stewart Vernon
02-02-2015, 05:17 PM
Yeah, the thing here... there are historically companies that seek to screw employees... and employees who seek to screw companies.

For every Superman that DC screwed Siegel and Shuster over, there are a dozen "goober man" characters that the employee was way overpaid for creating.

When you, as a company, sign a contract you are betting on future performance to some extent... when a creator signs a contract he is looking for stability.

You can own all the rights to everything if you do it yourself... but it is harder, and you might never create anything of worldwide significance. This is true for the company and the individual.

When a company screws a creator, I side with the creator... but sometimes creators knowingly sign bad contracts because they want money up front and aren't thinking of the future... I can't blame a company as much for holding them to that contract.

Do you want a regular 1-2 books a month gig that pays you monthly? Sign a contract that gives you that and may or may not pay big royalties down the road or share ownership IF you prefer the stability of having a regular gig. When you do that, you knowingly gave away some future thing that may never happen for present stability. That's an ok decision to make for many people.

IF you think you want more, or can do better... hold out for a better contract and risk current money for future profit. That's kind of the way of the world.

johnjohn
02-02-2015, 05:35 PM
Great answers, nothing to add, just wanted to acknowledge that before saying that now I want to see a character called 'Goober Man'.

Scribbly
02-03-2015, 12:28 AM
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen to Superman if wasn't for that Editor ( Gaines) at Action Comics who bought the idea and paid in cash for it to the creators?
Shuster & Siegel were knocking every publisher's doors by 6 years unsuccessfully trying to sell the idea to somebody, anybody. Nobody was interested.They were having only rejections from every publisher they submit.

What would happen if that guy at Action comics, now DC comics, didn't buy it?
What would be of Superman without DC paying up front for millions of printed copies and creating and mobilizing their own marketing structure and strategy for making of Superman the worldwide Icon it is nowadays?

Would be Shuster & Siegel able of doing the same thing for Superman by not selling it, keeping the IP for themselves and self publishing the character with their own funds and confronted economy strategies?
I wonder...

Robert_S
02-03-2015, 12:47 AM
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Sometimes, I wonder what would happen to Superman if wasn't for that editor at Action Comics who bought the idea and paid for it to the creators?
.
.
.
What would happen if that guy at Action comics, now DC comics, didn't buy it?
What would be of Superman without DC paying up front for millions of printed copies and creating and mobilizing their own marketing structure and strategy for making of Superman the worldwide icon it is nowadays?


I guess we need to define how much the creator brings to the table. Isn't investing a simple thing whereas creation the hardest? Doesn't an investor acknowledge that their money could go poof all because public opinion didn't bite? Both invest in hope. Who's investing more? The creator who invested a 1/8 or 1/5 of 1/4 of their time or the financial investor who's investing a fraction of their money? Also, what if the creator is of older age? They may be investing the last years of their life. Investors rarely ever invest the last of their bank account.

Stewart Vernon
02-03-2015, 01:27 AM
I guess we need to define how much the creator brings to the table. Isn't investing a simple thing whereas creation the hardest? Doesn't an investor acknowledge that their money could go poof all because public opinion didn't bite? Both invest in hope. Who's investing more? The creator who invested a 1/8 or 1/5 of 1/4 of their time or the financial investor who's investing a fraction of their money? Also, what if the creator is of older age? They may be investing the last years of their life. Investors rarely ever invest the last of their bank account.

But those are two different kinds of contracts, aren't they?

If a creator signs a "give me money now" contract because they need a job and are happy to finally find someone interested in hiring them... how much does that company "owe" that creator if it turns out their risk pays off? As in the Superman example... nobody else wanted to publish it before DC... maybe that whole concept languishes for years and never becomes what it is today without someone at DC rolling the dice.

Imagine if Superman had been a flop... Siegel and Shuster would still have walked away with their pay for that contract, DC would have lost a bunch of money, and probably the dude who bought the Superman idea would have been fired.

On the flip side... if Siegel & Shuster had just been seeking investors and wanted to publish themselves... then they would rightfully retain more control over their creation BUT likely would have had more liability to the investors IF Superman had failed.

I still think DC kind of screwed with them... but at the same time... not in the ways that sometimes the lawsuits against DC tried to make it out.

I tend to give creators the lions' share of credit, and rightfully so... but if they willingly sign a work-for-hire contract OR sell rights to a property without negotiating royalties... that's on them.

It's also true some companies will try and trick you into a contract... and in the past it was easier for creators to simply not know what rights they had going into a negotiation... so I do have sympathies there.

I'm really meaning to say that while employees and companies have been screwed... not every contract is a screw-job. Some are entered into with open eyes, and it's just someone later wishes they could get a better deal.

Like the time I was at a convention selling comics... sold one for $10... which was a fair price... but the guy who bought it found another dealer who had it for $7 and then wanted to come back to me for a refund... not because he was tricked or had a problem with the book... but because he didn't shop around and wanted me to refund his money so he could buy from another dealer. I politely refused and recommended him to take it as a lesson learned and shop around in the future IF it was going to sour him on a purchase like that.

I've been on the other side too... bought something that I wanted and paid more than I wanted because I feared not getting it... but then found it later for half the cost. I felt bad, wished I had been more patient... but didn't blame others for my impulse buy.

Stewart Vernon
02-03-2015, 01:28 AM
Great answers, nothing to add, just wanted to acknowledge that before saying that now I want to see a character called 'Goober Man'.

Damn... see, and here I am just giving ideas away! :har: