Marvel Attacks Artists on Ebay
In the week before the Disney buyout, Marvel went after some artists on ebay who sold artwork featuring Marvel characters. Is this the beginning of something major?
Earlier this week, The Outhouse asked the question: Will the Disney/Marvel Deal Destroy Commissions and Con-Sketches? Well, we may have the answer sooner rather than later, as Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool has reported today that, in the week leading up to the Walt Disney Company’s purchase of Marvel Entertainment for four billion dollars, at least two artists found their ebay accounts shut down after the online auction company was contacted by Marvel regarding copyright infringements.
Amongst the artists targeted is Sherry Leak , who has worked for Archie Comics and has drawn for Marvel’s Marvel Masterpieces III sketch cards. Sherry was selling rough sketches on ebay, including some of Marvel characters. Her account has been suspended by ebay after Marvel contacted them. Artists Trev Murphy and Veronica O’Connell have also been suspended from ebay, with the following notice:
The rights owner or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the rights
owner, Marvel Entertainment, Inc., notified eBay that this listing
violates intellectual property rights. When eBay receives a report of
this type of violation, we remove the listing to comply with the law.
Certainly, all of this is within Marvel’s rights as a copyright holder. However, as we said on Monday, allowing artists to draw and sell copyrighted characters is a long standing tradition in the comic book industry. The fact is that drawing sketches at conventions, doing commission work for fans, and even selling original art from comic books they worked on is standard supplemental income for comic book artists.
The publishers have traditionally looked the other way in these matters because it is good for the artists. It allows them to earn extra money, or to earn money between jobs, or even to continue earning when they have retired from drawing monthly comic books. Artists are the lifeblood of the comic book industry, so it makes sense for publishers to keep them happy.
However, with a company like Disney, which has been notorious in the past for going after small businesses and individuals for copyright infringement, entering the fray, it’s very possible that things will change. Though Disney has denied that they will interfere in Marvel’s practices, the actions of Marvel on ebay right before the buyout seem ominous.
John Byrne, an artist who is certainly not on good terms with the Big Two publishers, still draws and sells commission pieces featuring their characters on his website, Byrne Robotics . This is what Byrne had to say on Monday regarding this matter:
There are immediate thoughts of bells that have already been rung,
and barn doors that were long since left open — but Disney has never
been known for being "reasonable" about these things. And the bottom
line here is, if Disney decided to shut down the commission market on
Marvel characters, there would be very little anybody could really do
about it. / certainly don’t have the deep pockets that would be needed
to fight Disney, and I don’t know anyone who does.
We shall see!
Indeed, we shall see.
Sources: Bleeding Cool , Byrne Robotics , ClickOrlando
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Posted originally: 2009-09-04 13:00:14