Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Wire Wants All Creators' Rights

One of the great things about drawing is that you can take a piece of paper and fill it with a scene out of your imagination. When I teach cartooning, sometimes someone will draw something really interesting and I'll ask,

"Can I show this to the class?"


And then I pick it up and hold it for the class to see. I talk about the choices that they made when drawing and why it's significant. And then I give the drawing back to the person.

Now, why do I do that?

Because that person made the drawing, they own the drawing.

Which brings me to a free weekly newspaper called The Wire. The Wire is a small tabloid that lists concerts, art exhibits and happenings around the NH seacoast area.

The Wire likes to showcase work by locals.

The Wire is asking for free content and it wants to own all rights too. Here's the latest, a quarter page house ad that now appears in every issue:

"Use this space as as self-portrait of you! Or just jot down your thoughts, ideas, criticisms, greetings, then clip it out and sent it in! If you send in something good, we'll run it right here. Anything written here becomes property of The Wire, whether you mail it in or not."

Like me showing something someone else draws in class, The Wire wants to share.

But then it wants to grab it, take it away ... and along with that, all the creator's rights.

Why do they do that? Shame on The Wire.

ADDENDUM: What I don't get is that "whether you mail it in or not" bit. So, I doodle something in that box there, and then toss the thing in the trash. Does that mean if a Wire employee goes through my garbage and finds it, then it's theirs? Weird.

Related: Harlan Ellison: Pay the Writer
Related: Signing Your Rights Away
Related: Cartoon Contests and Creators' Rights


Today's Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen said...

Copyright cannot be grabbed by yelling DIBS! It requires a formal contract.

Dan Reynolds said...

You can measure the level of someone's lack of creativity by the lengths they will go to to take a creative person's work.

Anonymous said...


If a publisher says "We'll print it under these conditions" and you submit it for publication, that's 1) Offer and 2) Acceptance, i.e. a contract.

The "whether you mail it in or not" portion obviously lacks any consideration -- you don't get anything for trading away your rights -- so it isn't binding. But it would also be severable from the rest of the contract in the event that you did submit the drawing for publication. So that unenforceable clause would likely not invalidate the remainder of the contract.

Remember an agreement that has bad terms and is poorly written is still a contract.

-- MrJM