intellectual property Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

A reboot of intellectual property that favors creators

Tim O’Neil is proposing a hard reboot of all our thinking about intellectual property laws. Here are his four proposed rules, quoted in full:

Ideas belong to their creators.

Any permanent transfer of IP ownership from a creator to a corporation is and always has been morally wrong.

Permanent IP transfer under any circumstances is and has always been theft.

All money made by corporations from the exploitation of stolen IP is and will always be stolen money.

O’Neil admits from the get-go that there are situations in which it makes sense for a creator to sell his or her intellectual property rights, but he sees these rules as a goal to strive for, not a set of absolutes. If nothing else, they make for an interesting thought experiment, as they turn the old model of work-for-hire on its head.

Comics A.M. | Justice League #1 sells 360,000 copies in four months

Justice League #1

Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]

Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]

Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]

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Ken Penders releases new Julie-Su design

Last year, former Sonic the Hedgehog artist Ken Penders announced that he had retained the rights to all the characters and story lines he created while working on the comic (from issue #11 to #135), which is published by Archie Comics. Penders has sued the game companies Sega and Electronic Arts, claiming copyright infringement, and Archie Comics has sued Penders, asking the court to make a declaratory judgment on the rights question; that case is scheduled to go to court next month. It looks like a long shot, but if the court finds in Penders’s favor, Archie will be in a pickle, as they have not only reprinted those issues in digest form but also continued the storylines Penders originated, using the characters he now claims to own. (I reached out to the Archie Comics folks but they had no comment.)

In the meantime, Penders is keeping busy: He just revealed a redesign of Julie-Su, Lara-Su’s mother, for the graphic novel series he is working on, The Lara-Su Chronicles. It’s going to be an odd series, because even if the court decides that Penders should have the rights to the characters he created while working for Archie, they won’t give him the rights to Knuckles or Sonic, so the cast will be all supporting characters. On the other hand, it would be an interesting alternate universe for Sonic fans. Stay tuned!

Liquid Comics launches Graphic India

Liquid Comics (formerly Virgin Comics) launched a new digital comics initiative last week called Graphic India. (Note: The site doesn’t work properly in Safari.)

Graphic India intends to be India’s premiere graphic novel platform and community, leveraging Liquid’s large library of high quality content created by Indian creators, while also aggressively commissioning and showcasing numerous original stories by India’s greatest new visionaries.

It’s a smart move, as India has a burgeoning comics market; Archie Comics recently set up an office there. The Graphic India website features an array of online comics, interviews, and feature articles, as well as a graphic novel competition designed to flush out new talent and, the Indian media site MediaNama speculates, rounding up a whole lot of intellectual property that can be leveraged in different directions:

According to a report from Livemint, all the writers of 20 specially commissioned graphic novels will be given contracts but the copyright for these novels will remain with Liquid Comics. We hence assume that the company will probably use the digital rights of these graphic novels to create additional revenue channels like digital movie rights, mobile rights and so on.

Indian creators who are contemplating signing those contracts would be well advised to Google “Tokyopop global manga” before continuing. Still, with titles like Mumbai Macguffin and Ramayan 3392AD, this site looks like it has some promise.

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