Intellectual Property (1 of 3)

Asserting a claim on certain characters and concepts


Intellectual Property (1 of 3)
Mon April 11, 2016
Asserting a claim on certain characters and concepts
I wish it were possible – and it isn’t – to reasonably expect large business concerns to be aware of their history and of the people who have contributed over the years to their success, and to acknowledge those people as a matter of course.

I wish it were easier for me – and it isn’t – to advocate in my own interest when due acknowledgment is not forthcoming.

Let’s just make this quick, then: a number of elements and story points from my work are included in the recently released Warner Bros. film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well as other Warner-owned and -licensed products in current release. Much of this work pre-dates the current copyright law and is thus not subject to “work made for hire” doctrines to which the copyright law alludes. That which does not pre-date the current law is also not subject to such doctrines because of precedent established under the current law.

It appears I am pretty good at advocating for other people, and have done so in a number of forums. When I tried to dedicate a story to the creators of the character Superman I was told that we were not allowed to publish Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s names. When Jerry angrily emerged from the woodwork in response to the release of another major Hollywood production years ago I made friends with him and Joe and wrote an article on them for The Village Voice, which helped to secure credit and an ongoing stipend for them. They are hardly the only ones. I’m from a union family and I have been involved in political movements of one stripe or other since I was six.

So I’m going to write two brief essays here. I expect the first to be easy and the second to be difficult. First I am going to explain as briefly and clearly as I can the nature of work made for hire as it is established in current American law, including some of the precedents that have come to define it. Second, I’m going to enumerate – also, I hope, plainly and succinctly – how this affects and determines my personal concerns including those of my creative products from which a good deal of intellectual property in the current collective consciousness is directly derived.

After that, I may or may not talk about what I expect to do about all this, depending on how matters begin to shake down. I must admit I have been having a bad day once in a while the past few months, but this all is starting to feel unsettlingly like fun.

Ralston York
Fri Apr 8 2016
12:28 PM
Not sure yet whether this belongs here.

Waiting to hear from Phil.

keith tucker
Mon Apr 11 2016
8:06 PM
I read this on your basement wall, and I wonder where you can go with this in light of the fact that your work pre dates the work for hire laws. Good luck with this man.

Elliot S! Maggin
Mon Apr 11 2016
9:00 PM
Hiya Keith.

So if the work primarily pre-dates the current copyright law then any work-for-hire agreement is moot. In addition, there was no such agreement before 1978 - only word-of-mouth. In addition, work-for-hire under the current law doesn't apply to comics. I'll write about that.

Be in touch, yes?

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