Author Topic: Moore and V, various vectors  (Read 49893 times)

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Bob

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Moore and V, various vectors
« on: April 15, 2006, 07:50:35 PM »
Alan Moore seems to be in the middle of a lot of creator rights issues.  I think this is a combination of him being steadfast on what he thinks is right, him being a Briton working in America (and the conflicts of intellectual property rights law in the two countries) and the fact that he writes stuff actually worth arguing about the rights over (I'm sure if Axel Pressbutton's rights were as twisted as Miracleman's nobody would care).

Anyway, the latest to explode was over V FOR VENDETTA.  Lots of intersting aspects, but one that I don't think has gotten nearly enough play, and which opens up some interesting issues, was Moore's statement that with regards to the reversion clause in the V contract he was either misled or lied to by DC (I'll try to dig up the exact quote later).   Now, publishers obviously lie to creators all the time, and I guess what's really important is the actual wording of the signed contract, but behind those printed words was obviously a lot of discussion beforehand.  Now, my legal ignorance is going to show, but courts do recognize oral contracts, right?  The written contracts might supercede them, but are they recognized at all?  If you were intentionally deceived into signing something, about the exact meaning of something in the contract, does that enter into a court's deliberation, or is it your tough luck for not doing the research and for taking them at their word?

Tony Lemesma

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Re: Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2006, 05:25:09 AM »
Quote from: "Bob"
Alan Moore seems to be in the middle of a lot of creator rights issues.  I think this is a combination of him being steadfast on what he thinks is right, him being a Briton working in America (and the conflicts of intellectual property rights law in the two countries) and the fact that he writes stuff actually worth arguing about the rights over (I'm sure if Axel Pressbutton's rights were as twisted as Miracleman's nobody would care).

Anyway, the latest to explode was over V FOR VENDETTA.  Lots of intersting aspects, but one that I don't think has gotten nearly enough play, and which opens up some interesting issues, was Moore's statement that with regards to the reversion clause in the V contract he was either misled or lied to by DC (I'll try to dig up the exact quote later).   Now, publishers obviously lie to creators all the time, and I guess what's really important is the actual wording of the signed contract, but behind those printed words was obviously a lot of discussion beforehand.  Now, my legal ignorance is going to show, but courts do recognize oral contracts, right?  The written contracts might supercede them, but are they recognized at all?  If you were intentionally deceived into signing something, about the exact meaning of something in the contract, does that enter into a court's deliberation, or is it your tough luck for not doing the research and for taking them at their word?


Bob,

What If you dont actually sign anything, who do you think owns your creations then?

Is Moore the real deal or is he doing all this for attension? (personally I think he's the real deal)

Tony

Al Nickerson

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2006, 06:38:50 AM »
I doubt Moore is doing this for attention. He seems like a very serious guy who feels that his work has been mishandled. Steve Bissette should have a good perspective to all things Alan Moore.

Now, if Alan Moore wants his name taken off of any of his work and if he hasn't signed anything to the contrary, then, that's a creator's right, correct?

Al Nickerson

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 06:42:37 AM »

Bob

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Re: Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2006, 06:51:25 AM »
Quote from: "Tony Lemesma"

What If you dont actually sign anything, who do you think owns your creations then?


In theory, if you don't sign anything than you own what you created.  I'm sure a corporation would gladly hire a lawyer to argue the opposite and saddle you with legal bills up the wazoo if they thought it might make them a few bucks.

Quote from: "Tony Lemesma"

Is Moore the real deal or is he doing all this for attension? (personally I think he's the real deal)


I think he's real on this.  I think he could have garnered as much, maybe more attention if he played ball, participated in the Silver/Wachowski media machine.  He's obviously turned his back on a lot of money to stay true to his ideals, whether you agree with them or not.

Bob

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2006, 07:12:04 AM »
Quote from: "Al Nickerson"
Now, if Alan Moore wants his name taken off of any of his work and if he hasn't signed anything to the contrary, then, that's a creator's right, correct?


He probably has signed something to the contrary.  Standard contracts include the right to use the name of the creator in publicity etc etc, dating back to at least Kirby's 1970s contract at Marvel, so I'd be amazed if Moore didn't sign a similar provision.  In fact, Sim's contract for FABLES, 11(a) "DC agrees to credit the Artist as an artist of the Work on the cover of the United States edition of the Work in a manner consistant with DC's current credit practices".  If Moore's contract has something like that DC could not publish an edition of V without Moore's name without being in breach of the contract.

But in the abstract, if he hasn't signed anything to the contrary I'd say a request for his name to be removed is fair.  Not sure of the legal standing, though.  The precedent would be Hollywood writers and directors having the right to remove their names ("Alan Smithee" for directors) from work they felt was compromised, but that a negotiated right by way of their respective unions/guilds.

HeathLail

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2006, 08:44:33 PM »
I have respect for Moore because he stands by his principles, even when it makes things difficult for him monetarily. Though I do not agree with all his statements in this vein I am glad that he is not willing to shift on things he truly believes in...most people have a price, but the only price Alan believes in is staying true to himself.

Unfortunately, as the more knowledgable about things Moore/Bissette/Totleben know (as well as those of us who who simply read Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman), it has caused many of his fellow creators sorrow. Therefore, sticking to one's guns can cause problems, and I do not agree that it is fair to the other party that a response go unanswered simply because you do not feel it is warranted.

This is simply classic Moore, with him sticking up for what he believes is right, leaving fans to scratch their heads and wonder if he is truly correct. I disagree with his actions in the V situation, though if Joel Silver knew who he was dealing with, perhaps his words would have been more carefully chosen before bringing Alan's name into things at all. Maybe Alan is getting crabbier in his old age. Unfortunately, for those he has hurt and offended, he is simply using his free will and ability to do such things and can not be punished for such actions, no matter how badly he might hurt dear friends or bitter enemies.

-HPL

Bob

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2006, 07:08:14 AM »
He can be a bit maddening, even on the outside looking in, at times.  On the other hand, he does seem to be more than fair to his collaborators sometimes.  On the V movie, as I understand, Lloyd is getting all the money that would have gone to Moore.  Even if Moore's complaints about the movie led to a 25% drop in such revenues (and I don't think it did, I don't know of anyone who refused to see V because of Moore's objections.  Though the movie doesn't seem to have done too well), Lloyd is still getting a lot more than he would have otherwise (likewise Gibbons on future WATCHMEN money, all of John Constantine's various daddys for CONSTANTINE).  Also, of course, the stated reason he stuck with the ABC line after it was sold to DC was that his co-creators had already put so much work into it (I think in retrospect that might have been the wrong call, and was one of his more conventionally "reasonable" moments).

I don't think he's wrong on the V situation.  Silver flat out lied about things Moore had said, which might be standard operating procedure in Hollywood but something he shouldn't have done regardless of Moore's possible reaction.  Then Silver didn't offer a public retraction when that was what Moore requested.  Asking that his name be removed at that point (asking, not, to my knowledge, threatening any legal action if it was not) is a pretty reasonable reaction, and backing that up by turning over the financial stakes to Lloyd makes the point better than any interview could.  Add in the other things (DC sending him a box of the new printings of V, with the "Soon to be major motion picture, as if that validates it" label messing up the cover and a typo on the back, when he had asked them not to) and Moore comes across as the most reasonable man in the room.

Stephen R Bissette

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Moore and V, various vectors
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2006, 01:40:59 PM »
Every DC contract I ever signed or saw from 1981 on (remember, I did do some stories in the war and mystery books prior to SWAMP THING) had the 'right to use name and likeness' clause, as did all our one-page SWAMP THING voucher/contracts.

I've no idea first-hand what V contracts looked like, but the other DC contracts (including at least one high-profile project from that very period) I've seen ALL had that clause.

Also, the clauses that conflate rights reversal with keeping a work in print weren't unusual then in comics -- if anything, any mention at all of rights reversal was unusual -- but I can state unequivocably from first-hand experience that DC's legal dept. of that period wasn't above verbally misleading freelancers and/or misrepresenting contracts during conversation.

John T. and I found ourselves in just such a situation when Chantal was the voice on the other other end of the phone at DC legal -- and she later gloated over this when called on it (like, stupid us; this led to my having no qualms about maintaining my own 'heels in the dirt' stand over John T. and my rights on Constantine, after John asked me to get involved, and I've been thankful every day since that I stood that ground).

If you seek outside confirmation, note Dick Giordano's completely askew "explanation" of copyright law issues in his COMICS JOURNAL interview of the early 1980s (not in easy reach, sorry), which is an fairly astounding public record of the company line of the period.

Mind you, DC weren't alone in this: First Comics, for instance, sold an astonishing bill of goods regarding the "need" to retain copyright in order to "protect the creator's rights" with one of my close friends; that was in '84, as I recall, and a number of us who had been approached to work on a project tied to First were pretty aghast at that gross misrepresentation of copyright law. Eclipse's own liberties in this regard have eluded historical note, though the most visible (to those looking) would be the matter of John Carpenter's THEY LIVE being adapted from Bill Wray's adaptation of a short story -- Bill added elements in his adaptation that made it to the film, but Eclipse, while 'brokering' the deal, kept Bill out of the loop.

Those were rather perilous times, in their way: filled with potential, fraught with deceit. We learned to be on our toes in short order, mainly via hard experience. Given the kinds of contracts DC was offering in those pre-Vertigo days, I'm not surprised at all that has been said and done... but I must add, I long ago learned to live with the consequences of having signed what I signed.

It's a matter of personal responsibility to me, however happy or unhappy I might be with the contracts in hindsight or consequences today.

Bob

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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2006, 06:43:38 PM »
Man, I remember that Giordano interview.  Wish I still had a copy handy.  I read it a few years after it came out, and I could not believe how far off reality he seemed at times, and wondered if he actually believed any of it.