Saturday, April 12, 2008

Protecting Your Rights to Your Work

An article in Animation World Magazine, Mind Your Own Business: You Will Lose All the Rights to Your Own Art, by Mark Simon, is a little frantic, but it underscores some of the things I've been saying about posting on certain comics hosting sites.

I'm one of those people who reads User Agreements, despite the fine print and legal language. In the past, I have cautioned against posting on Zuda and Drunk Duck, and I have expressed mild concern about posting on ComicsGenesis.

Zuda and Drunk Duck are quite clear about claiming certain rights to material posted on their sites. ComicSpace imposes certain responsibilities in the contract, like linking back. Online Comics also requires linking back, but it appears as part of the enrollment and not, as far as I can see, in contract language.

I'm not an attorney, but you shouldn't need one to understand the Terms of Use and User Agreements that sites post. You just need to take time to read them carefully.

Let me be clear: I am not saying these sites are out to screw you. But because Zuda and Duck are owned by big corporations, they have attorneys whose job it is to write contract language that is as favorable to the site owner as possible. In my opinion they go too far.

I regard Web Comics Nation, Comic Space and Online Comics as safe, and in fact, I post my own comic, Scratchin Post, on all three. I have not spotted danger on any of the other well-known sites, but I have not reviewed them as closely.

Of course, we have one weapon that most people exploited by contract law don't have: we can draw savage and unflattering comics detailing the conduct of the offending fat cats. The pen is mightier than the briefcase.