Friday, May 30, 2008

TokyoPop Contract Warning!

Bless the Internet and bless the blogs and discussion groups (as well as the two Aussie creators who brought this issue to Black Mermaid's attention!) who are warning the comics community about a travesty against creators' rights in the form of the new TokyoPop Manga Pilot Program. 

TokyoPop recently posted its "Shining Stars Program Pact" onto its website. This is written in a simplistic "hey dude" style of language, seemingly with the intent of gaining the trust of aspiring but vulnerable manga artists and writers not yet educated about the subtleties of contract speak and intellectual property rights. The agreement appears to have been formulated in a way to get emerging creators to relax, submit and ultimately pledge over their new borns (in the form of their creative projects). It reminds us of the worm like tongue of the snapping turtle, designed to lure oblivious prey into its cavernous mouth at which point the jaws snap down to devour the fishling. 

DO NOT SIGN THIS AGREEMENT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WITHOUT GETTING LEGAL ADVICE! We feel it is exceedingly condescending and full of traps. To see why, head over to the following blogs where the bloggers have dissected and challenged pretty much every clause in the agreement: Lea Hernandez's DivaLive Journal, as well as Bryan Lee O'Malley's Live Journal.

And in defense of the French who originated the idea of moral rights which, according to Lynne Spender's book Between the Lines: A Legal Guide for Writers and Illustrators (2004, Kessing Press, Australian Society of Authors, Sydney), constistutes the following  ...
Moral rights are personal rights relating to your reputation and they require that you be acknowledged as the creator of a work and that the integrity of your work be respected.  Moral rights can't be bought or sold, assigned or licensed. They stay with you (and your heirs) and the work regardless of the physical or copyright ownership of the work.

There are three specific moral rights:
(i) your right to be identified as the author (right of attribution);
(ii) your right not to have your work falsely identified as someone else's (right against false attribution);
(iii) your right not to have your work subjected to derogatory treatment or in a way that is detrimental to your reputation (right of integrity).
... we think they're a bloody good idea!. We would also have you know that the French culture has had a long heritage of embracing comic books and graphic novels. In fact, one proud French cartoonist who was in the audience of an event where we both spoke in our capacity as Australian Society of Authors' Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio Holders, proclaimed to have 800 graphic novels in his library. Now that's dedication and a commitment to the art form!

Getting back to our main point, please proceed with caution in regard to the aforementioned contract and please share this warning with others.

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