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Author Topic: Jack Kirby's copyrights and Steve Ditko's departure from Marvel Comics  (Read 7919 times)

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Offline bminor

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2011, 06:07:00 PM »
Incredibly fantastic stuff!!!

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2011, 06:07:00 PM »

Offline boox909

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2011, 07:21:49 PM »
Thanks for sharing these statements...interesting reading!
Golly, what were the Last 100 uploads?
http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/stats2.php

Keltner's Golden Age Comic Book Index!
http://www.twomorrows.com/alterego/media/Golden%20Age%20Index.pdf

Offline Roygbiv666

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2011, 04:43:35 AM »
I'm confused.

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque.

Under "work for hire", the artists ..... signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque?

Either way, the artist has no rights after the transaction.

I'm not getting the distinction here. Can someone explain it like I"m 4 years old?

Offline OtherEric

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2011, 05:05:56 AM »
I'm confused.

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque.

Under "work for hire", the artists ..... signs away his rights when he cashes the cheque?

Either way, the artist has no rights after the transaction.

I'm not getting the distinction here. Can someone explain it like I"m 4 years old?

Under "Freelance" conditions, the artist signs away certain rights, which may be all rights known to exist at the time the rights were signed away.  When Congress extended copyright, they specified that the original freelancer had the right to reclaim the rights to the creation, since they couldn't and didn't know they would exist when they first sold the rights.

Under "work for hire", the work is done as an employee of the company, and for legal purposes the company is considered the creator.  (I believe not all countries recognize the concept of "work for hire", by the way.)  The person who did the work has no rights to reclaim under the extended copyright since they are not for legal purposes the creator.

A lot of the arguments fall back on was the work originally freelance, or was it work for hire.

Offline josemas

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2011, 05:15:45 AM »
I noticed that Adams mentioned that he used to cross out the "work for hire" clause on the back of his checks before he cashed them.  I wonder if this sort of action on his part has any affect on the whole subject.

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Joe

Offline Roygbiv666

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2011, 06:47:34 AM »
I noticed that Adams mentioned that he used to cross out the "work for hire" clause on the back of his checks before he cashed them.  I wonder if this sort of action on his part has any affect on the whole subject.

Best

Joe

Yeah, but for that to mean anything, wouldn't he have to send it back to DC/Marvel and have them accept it first? It's part of the whole contractual "offer-consideration-acceptance" thing isn't it?

Offline josemas

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2011, 09:50:43 AM »

Yeah, but for that to mean anything, wouldn't he have to send it back to DC/Marvel and have them accept it first? It's part of the whole contractual "offer-consideration-acceptance" thing isn't it?

You got me. 

Adams makes it sound as if there were no contracts from the comic publishers of any sorts for him back in the Silver Age other than that statement printed on the backs of the checks.

My brother is a business professor with a law degree.  Maybe I should ask him his two cents on this.

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Joe

Offline John C

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #37 on: March 31, 2011, 04:03:50 PM »
From what little I understand of contract law, cashing the check is considered acceptance of the client's terms (whatever they were understood to be at the time), and alterations to terms can only be managed by mutual acceptance, usually by both parties initialing the change.

So, at best, it was a micro-protest.

What is (again) interesting is that people in the case keep saying that the TERM "work for hire" was never used, when it obviously wasn't, since it wasn't a legal term in this country until 1976.  So Adams may be embellishing or misremembering when he says that it was on the check and that he crossed it out, unless he means much later.

(Imagine a movie star from the '60s insisting that he should get extra royalties, because nobody at the time of filming ever mentioned selling it "on DVD"...)

Offline Yoc

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2011, 04:51:33 PM »
I can see that happening very easily John.

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #39 on: March 31, 2011, 05:56:46 PM »
IMO Kirby was ripped off... period.  He should have sued for a piece of the merchandise and cartoon licensing profits when he left Marvel.  And so what if he never worked in comics again, he would have been better off financially.  

But from all accounts he wasn't like that.  I think he liked the work too much... the creative process... more than the money.  Nevertheless, perhaps the family is entitled to some sort of compensation.  After all, the work he did back then is indeed the foundation on which Marvel's current success is built... and although it might have been legal at the time, he clearly wasn't adequately compensated for his contribution to that future success, since it (his early Marvel intellectual contributions) is indeed directly related to the current use of those properties that he had such a great influence over.  

In other words, IMO it's the right thing to do, even though there may not be a legal obligation on the part of Marvel to do so.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 06:02:28 PM by Drusilla lives! »

Offline John C

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2011, 06:32:14 AM »
I can see that happening very easily John.

Sure, it might happen, but how seriously would you take him?

What fascinates me is that this story only seems to happen regularly or taken seriously with comics.  As I mentioned, nobody screams that we should track down Tesla's grand-nephews and force the power companies to give them a percentage of our electric bills, even though he essentially invented AC power transmission, among other things around us he actually never got paid for.  Nobody thinks that Jackie Gleason's estate should get money from modern sitcoms after he essentially reinvented the form used today.  The story goes that Bill Gates built Microsoft by buying an existing product (QDOS) on the cheap and selling licenses to IBM, so who here believes we should find those original programmers and force Microsoft to give them a percent of the company's profits since?

I'm sure we could all find a field and pick out the unsung heroes who created the industry, got their checks, and walked away, and everybody accepts it as business.  If those people came out of the woodwork to demand "what's right," we'd laugh and point out that they've already been compensated.  We'd laugh harder if it was their kids after the actual creator died.

But oh, gosh, an artist drew some stuff for disposable entertainment that happened to become popular after they left and all they got was a paycheck!?  We obviously must demand that companies give money asked for to anybody who makes such a request, even when some of the requests might be bogus and were made "just in case" (Spider-Man, for example).  And the money must come from the mega-corporation, of course, not the very real individuals who allegedly cheated these artists.

The money also obviously shouldn't come from the fans who want to see the family paid.  How many people do you think have such a strong belief that Kirby's family deserves some money for co-creating the Silver Surfer that they've sent a check to the estate?

Offline Yoc

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2011, 07:10:16 AM »
Hi John,
Points taken. 
I think part of the difference is the 'artist' side of the matter and the fact that one can 'reclaim a copyright' even existing.  Toss in not returning artwork and lack of credits - Marvel/Disney just looks like the bad guy in their dealings.  Ultimately they want to protect their investment so conceding a credit likely isn't being considered though I bet that's the best that the Kirby's could manage.

-Yoc

Offline bminor

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2011, 03:01:21 PM »
Wife wife and I are artists (watercolor).
We have done art festivals and shows in the upper midwest for many years now.
Art we are good at, the business side. That is marketing, etc. is another matter entirely.
I feel a real kinship for Mr. Jack Kirby, as one artist to another. We are extremely creative, but not the best business persons.

I feel that musical artists are pretty well protected by various laws and such, ASCAP, etc.
There is no entity out there to protect the interests of the visual artists.
Whether it is right or wrong in the eyes of the law is one thing. It is my sincere hope that the Kirby family does receive some sort of equitable settlement in the end.
It may not be the legal thing, but it is the morally right thing. Considering all the income that Mr. Kirby has brought to the House of Marvel over these past fifty years.
Reprinting and reprinting his work, over and over, ad infinitum....

B Minor

Offline John C

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2011, 04:25:35 PM »
Hi John,
Points taken. 
I think part of the difference is the 'artist' side of the matter and the fact that one can 'reclaim a copyright' even existing.  Toss in not returning artwork and lack of credits - Marvel/Disney just looks like the bad guy in their dealings.  Ultimately they want to protect their investment so conceding a credit likely isn't being considered though I bet that's the best that the Kirby's could manage.

-Yoc

But an artist isn't any different, frankly, than the rest of us.  My labor doesn't retroactively become more valuable because a former employer or client cashed in on some software I created for him (it has happened, in fact, and I'm thrilled for them, not demanding my cut).  The transient that picked your vegetables isn't getting a fat check because corn futures are up and what he's done has proven more valuable to his employer.  And a (pardon the expression) real artist doesn't look for a bigger commission when a painting goes for thousands at an auction, many owners later.

And, by the way, Kirby got a hell of a reputation for doing the work he did.  That's far, far better than most people get for a lot more effort and a getting a lot more wronged along the way.

Sure, Marvel did bad things.  But it's not an aphorism that two wrongs don't make a right.  Giving the junior Kirbies a pound of Disney's flesh doesn't help Jack or even show him the least bit of respect.  And Jack has been dead for getting close to twenty years, now, and suddenly the kids realize that Dad is owed artwork, long after the statute of limitations expired!  Sure, totally believable.

But even accepting all this, it doesn't mean that Kirby thought he was an independent contractor creating things on his own that he then sold to Marvel.  (And consider that, if any artist believed these were his work terms, there wouldn't have been a Creator's Rights movement.  Image Comics wouldn't have been founded to publish creator-owned properties, because the assumption would have been that's what Marvel was doing.)

To me, nothing is more insulting to a man's legacy than for his children to paint him as an idiot who didn't know what he was doing so that they can make a quick buck off his work.  If I have kids and anybody spots them doing it to me, please smack them on my behalf.

Offline Bob Hughes

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Re: Steve Ditko and the departure from Marvel Comics,
« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2011, 05:15:20 PM »
John, where have you been for the last 30 years, that you can pretend that this is a recent fight?  The fight between Kirby and Ditko and Marvel started while they were still working there and has continued to this day.  To pretend that his kids "suddenly" realized there was money to be made is an absolutely reprehensible and dishonest twisting of the facts in the case.  I suggest you go back and read every interview that Kirby ever gave in his life and maybe a law book or two before you post any more.