Free Culture Uncategorized

Indie Comic Publishers Not Respecting Fair Use

What does the title of this post call to mind? An indie publisher publishing a Mickey Mouse mash-up perhaps. That marxist version of Tintin possibly. You’d be wrong.

Nowdays indie publishers are more likely to be slapping an excessive copyright claim inside their books than treading on anyone else’s copyright. The “Bear” graphic novels I have claim, quite incorrectly, that you can only copy them for the purpose of review. This ignores private study in the UK and Fair Use in the US.

The most shocking example I’ve seen, shocking both for its severity and how cool the publisher doing it used to be, is Fantagraphics discalimer in the back of the new “Castle Waiting” graphic novel. Fantagraphics claim that if you want to reproduce anything from the book for review, you have to contact them for permission.

This is just wrong. Review is explicitly covered by Fair Dealing in the UK, and a standard feature of Fair Use in the US. Fantagraphics should know better, and if they do know better their attempt to reduce the scope of fair use in this way really doesn’t do them any favours. I’ve been reading Fantagraphics books for twenty years. I don’t expect this sort of thing from them.

Every indie publisher should place a notice saying “[Publisher X] respects Fair Use, including at least the right to reproduce this work for review and personal study” on their copyright page or in their copyright block. Any who refuse (possibly out of fear of offending Disney or UPS) suck like a vampire bat undr a cow.