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How much creative license and clout does a creator have if they work for someone?

 
 
Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2020 10:53 pm
Hi. As a person who majored in animation I should know this, but it's been a long time since I took a course in trademark and copyright law.

If a company (studio, publisher, etc.) decides to use a creator's material his material becomes property of that company. How much creative license and clout does a creator have over his material once that happens?

I presume this is why a lot of animation and comics people, for example, decide to work independently; they have full creative license and clout over their material.

I am curious. Please help. Thank you.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 332 • Replies: 19
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sat 11 Jul, 2020 11:19 pm
I might be mixing some terms up. What's the difference between "creative license", "creative control" and "creative freedom"?
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Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:48 am
@JGoldman10,
It all depends on the contract that is being signed between the creator and the studio.

There are plenty of examples where the creator is either involved in every step of production or is staying out of production, and the results can be either good or bad.

According to Google:

Creative License (also known as artistic license): Deviation from fact or form for artistic purposes. It can include alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or the rewording of pre-existing text.

Example: 1996's Romeo + Juliet keeps the original Shakespearean dialogue but changes the setting to modern day.

Creative Control: the authority to decide how the final product will appear. In movies, this commonly refers to the authority to decide on the final cut. When a director does not have artistic control, the studio that is producing the project commonly has the final say on production.

Example: Disney studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg had creative control over 1985's The Black Cauldron and cut several scenes from the film. Directors Ted Berman and Richard Rich, as well as author Lloyd Alexander had no final say.

Creative Freedom: the power to do something without boundaries for yourself. Which means no need to please both the studio (who would have some say as they are financing the project) and the target audience.

Example: Dave Sim created the comic Cerebus the Aardvark, which he used to express his personal beliefs, regardless of how people feel about it.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:48 am
Are there any experts on legality who can please help me out with this thread?
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:53 am
@Rebelofnj,
So creators sign contracts with companies to work for them. All creators who work for companies do this?

Do comic creators sign any contracts with comic publishers and/or syndicates? Do video game creators sign contracts with video game publishers?
Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:18 am
@JGoldman10,
Yes, all creators who work for companies do this. However, in recent years, creators try to pay attention to their contracts, so that they don't get lose any deserved royalties.

Ex1: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally lost their ownership of Superman to DC Comics. They spent years in legal battles with DC to get credited.

Ex2: Bob Kane signed a contract with DC that named him as the sole creator of Batman, leaving out original writer Bill Finger. It was only recently in 2015 that DC and the Finger family was able to make an agreement to give Finger a co-credit.

Not sure about video games, as most games are created by a team, and it is rare for a game to have one single person working on it.
That said, according to the book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made, the sole creator of Stardew Valley did sign a contract with Chucklefish Games, who would publish and market the game in exchange for 10% of the profits. It worked in the end, with the game selling over 1.5 million copies.
izzythepush
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:50 am
@JGoldman10,
Have you seen Barton Fink?

That sums it up quite well.
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jespah
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 07:09 am
@JGoldman10,
You are asking for something against the Terms of Service.
https://able2know.org/about/tos/#3d
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 04:50 pm
@Rebelofnj,
Thank you for your help and input.
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:06 pm
@Rebelofnj,
I know the guy who created Howard the Duck got into a feud with Marvel over ownership rights, so he ended up showcasing his character through Image Comics.

He was involved with a Howard the Duck/Savage Dragon crossover.

Marvel has a long history of screwing creators who work for them over.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:21 pm
@Rebelofnj,
Rebelofnj wrote:

Yes, all creators who work for companies do this.


I asked because I was wondering if there are/were any creators who freelance for companies they work for.
Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:42 pm
@JGoldman10,
Some comic creators do work for multiple major comic publishers, though some do sign exclusive deals so that they only work for one major company, but allowing them to work on their own independent comics.

Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel after 15+ years when he signed a deal with DC. Though, he is still working on his Jinxworld comics like Powers and Scarlet.
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Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:47 pm
@JGoldman10,
Quote:
Marvel has a long history of screwing creators who work for them over.


Both DC and Marvel have a long history of screwing creators.
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 05:49 pm
@JGoldman10,
JGoldman10 wrote:

Marvel has a long history of screwing creators who work for them over.


This being said, I wouldn't want to work for Marvel as a creator. I am glad I never tried pitching anything to them as a creator. I had no interest in ever working for Marvel anyway; I don't like the way they approach and handle comics. I do not like Marvel too much now anyway since Disney bought them.

As far as I know, Marvel and DC are still not accepting unsolicited works from creators; no unsolicited scripts and/or comic panels for proposed original comic book series from creators.
Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:03 pm
@JGoldman10,
Many companies don't accept or read unsolicited material for legal reasons. It has been the case for years.

And what specifically do you not like about Marvel's business practices? And do you like DC more, even though those in charge have worked for Marvel (Bob Harras, Jim Lee) for years in the past?
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:19 pm
@Rebelofnj,
I prefer the way DC approaches comics more than Marvel's. It's like comparing Coke to Pepsi.

I wanted to produce kids'/all-age/family-friendly comics and as you know I tried pitching material for an original comic book series to DC and they turned it down.

DC has a more defined outline of cartoon books they aim at kids/general audiences. Marvel doesn't.

Marvel hasn't had a defined outline of cartoon books that they aim at kids/general audiences since the '80s and '90s.

My material would have been a better fit for DC and WB.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:21 pm
@Rebelofnj,
Rebelofnj wrote:

Many companies don't accept or read unsolicited material for legal reasons. It has been the case for years.


I know that. Back in the late '90s and up until some time in the early '00s if I'm not mistaken DC and Marvel were both accepting unsolicited works from creators.
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Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 06:42 pm
@JGoldman10,
So you only like DC because they published those Looney Tunes comics? As far as I can find, DC didn't have an all ages imprint in the 90s, so it is odd you thought they would publish your comic. Looney Tunes was likely an exception to the rules since DC is owned by WB.
Your comic (presumably) wouldn't fit in DC's regular superhero comic line or its mature Vertigo imprint.

Both Marvel and DC have published all ages comics in recent years. Since 2000, Marvel has published an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, the kid-friendly Marvel Adventures, and comics based on their 90s and 00s Marvel animated shows.

DC has also been publishing superhero graphic novels for young adults and middle school readers.
https://www.polygon.com/comics/2018/2/5/16974926/dc-comics-kids-books-super-hero-girls
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2020 07:17 pm
@Rebelofnj,
I'll get back to you on this.
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Rebelofnj
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2020 05:48 am
@JGoldman10,
DC does have a all ages imprint after 2004 (originally named Johnny DC, now called DC Entertainment) and all of the series under the imprint were based on existing properties (Looney Tunes, Cartoon Network, Young Justice, etc). It has not published a single original series.
https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/Johnny_DC

Even their new imprints for young readers (DC Zoom and DC Ink) only use existing characters for the new books (Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Batman, Zatanna)
https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/DC_Zoom
https://dc.fandom.com/wiki/DC_Ink

You had a better chance getting published through a third party publisher than with DC and Marvel. Not sure why you hadn't tried re-submitting your work with a different company. Most authors would try other publishers if they got rejected from one.
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