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  • DeCarlo Rules: Dan Parent & Fernando Ruiz provided the artwork for Dynamite's ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK HALLOWEEN SPECIAL [link] solicited for October 18th release.
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Author Topic: ARCHIE COMICS FOR NOVEMBER 2017  (Read 4429 times)

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DeCarlo Rules

Re: ARCHIE COMICS FOR NOVEMBER 2017
« on: August 26, 2017, 04:34:05 pm »

When will the 1950s and 60s stories be in public domain? Then ACP can start publishing them cheaply.

It will be a long, long, time -- for intellectual properties created under the auspices of publishers and other media companies that still remain in business today, or whose intellectual properties have changed legal ownership by being bought or transferred to other companies. That's because copyright laws allow for more than one renewal, and the extension period covered by renewals has been lengthened in recent decades to cover a longer period of years -- thanks to the unceasing efforts of an army of legal footsoldiers working in the trenches of massive corporations like Disney Co, who stand to lose millions of dollars when their intellectual property rights are no longer exclusive, and they would then need to compete with others, to use a hypothetical example, to see which company could produce stories and/or merchandise based on the character Mickey Mouse that were more commercially successful with the consumer public. Disney Co has actively worked to change existing copyright laws so that they can hold on to their exclusive rights longer.

Or to put it more simply, it's the same realization that a collector has about comic books, as opposed to someone who merely reads them but considers them ephemeral and disposable. Yes, at one time, comic books were cheap enough entertainment that they were conveniently disposed of in the wastebin, or simply given away to anyone willing to take them. Likewise, the publishers of those ephemeral comic books never imagined that the characters and stories they were creating would be remembered or valued in any way, but would be forgotten when kids moved on to other interests. The same was true of radio dramas and early television shows. As a result many of the companies who created those copyrighted stories either weren't conspicuously aware, or just couldn't be bothered, to renew those copyrights, if they couldn't see any profit in it for them. "One man's trash is another man's treasure"...  And never more so than when that treasure is realized to represent a potential source of continuing income -- and you're not talking about one individual's nostalgia, but a corporation's lifeblood.

But I'll admit to puzzlement over your comment about public domain status somehow resulting in ACP being able to publish cheaply. "Public domain" simply means that ownership of those PD comic book stories belongs to -- the public, not any one individual or corporation. Public domain status doesn't make it cheaper for ACP to publish anything. It means, theoretically, that anyone can publish those stories, as long as they can manage to avoid legal trademark entanglements. DC or Marvel could do reprints of those 1940s MLJ comics -- if they thought they could make money doing so. But then of course, ACP would take them to court on some trademark defense ploy, if merely to occupy them with bother and legal expenses, and deter DC or Marvel from making a profit off those reprints. Warners lawyers would easily crush any legal representation ACP tried to mount, but the point is they'd try to make it annoying and costly enough that it wasn't worth DC Comics' efforts to publish the reprints. And in fact, DC's lawyers have used exactly that same tactic against small publishers (**cough, cough, AC Comics**) to "dissuade" them from using public domain characters created for Quality Comics in the 1940s (in copyrighted stories not renewed) like Phantom Lady, over which DC Comics merely claims the right of eminent domain. They SAY the character belongs to them (regardless of the truth of expired copyrights), and as such, they intend to use their legal clout to badger anyone who can't afford to stand up to their lawyers, into not creating new stories based on that character. They can't stop AC Comics from publishing Phantom Lady reprints though (or the recent hardcover archival reprints from PS Artbooks).

It baffles me why you think public domain would somehow make it "cheaper" for ACP to reprint those stories. They are getting them out there before someone else tries to do it and steal their thunder (and whatever potential customers there are). In fact, I don't exactly know the deal behind those Dark Horse Archie Archives, but Dark Horse could easily have said "Hey look, we're going to do this whether you want us to or not -- it's in the public domain, so why not just let us pay you a stipend to use the Archie trademark?" I don't know that to be a fact, but legally speaking they could have. And when they reach whatever date in the 1950s that the copyrights were renewed properly by ACP and are still protected, then Dark Horse would have to pay whatever fee ACP deems reasonable to continue reprinting Archie Archives. In fact they may already have reached that point.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 05:27:25 pm by DeCarlo Rules »

 


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