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From the heart

After a frustrating day of being tired and cranky, and trying to focus on some trifling paperwork it suddenly occurred to me (as it does a couple of times each year), that I miss Bill Hicks. And sure enough, it’s probably been almost exactly 15 years since Bill finished recording Arizona Bay.

And that sucks.

(NSFW)

What’s round and plastic and has nothing to do with contract law?

His name is Ben. He spells it B-E-N.
I may never be as clever or as popular as Tim Schaefer. I may never be a suave video game designer, with my own crack team of geniuses working on some of the most critically lauded videogames of all time.

But at least my house doesn’t smell like cat-pee covered consumer electronics.

Also, Tim now has a daughter or something. Congratulations!

But mostly I wanted to bring your attention to the cat pee thing.

Because if Tim Schaefer and a freaking ROBOT isn’t enough raw awesomesauce to prevent having to live surrounded with raw animal waste – there is absolutely no hope for the rest of us.

Zudacomics v. Tokyopop: Round 3!

Round 3: Fight!

Last TokyoPop post for a little while… I promise.

Brigid Alverson posted an interesting question over at her MangaBlog wondering about the compare and contrast between the TokyoPop and Zudacomics contracts.

It’s way to late to do a point by point breakdown – but I did do a scan of the standard Zudacomics rights agreement, and for my money the TokyoPop one is far preferable.
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The Return of the Curious Case of the TokyoPop Contract

Further to my last post about the TokyoPop pilot program, I’ve swapped a couple of interesting e-mails with “industry insiders” (who I have not asked for permission to quote, so I shan’t name).

It seems like alot of the ire coming up in this specific case can be traced back to the fact that some folks feel TokyoPop has a very bad track record for exploiting new talent.

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Bryan Lee O’Malley and the case of the TokyoPop Pilot Pandemonium

Bryan Lee O’Malley has recently posted a number of objections regarding TokyoPop’s default contract for their new Manga Pilot Program.

Firstly the obligatory disclosure that I have a gigantic man-crush on Bryan. Anyone who has ever worked at The Beguiling is automatically cooler than me, but come on – “Lost at Sea”, “Hopeless Savages”, “Scott Pilgrim”!? I have lost this battle already. So I actually was going to limit my comment on this issue to an e-mail to him directly. But since a lot of other people have started commenting on his original post, especially creators I have huge respect for

[Edit - I owe Lea an apology as this whole kerfuffle started with her post, I mis-read the timing of the posts .. worse - I mis-spelled her name (which she was too polite to point out). How bush league is that?]

(Lea Hernandez, Kris Straub, I’m looking at you) I felt it was important to get some kind of contrarian opinion out there for anyone who might be Googling.

So please take what I have to say from a place of deep respect for some of my favourite creators out there: There are bad screwjob contracts out there. TokyoPop may have a record of bad Original Property Agreements (of which I can’t comment, having never seen one, or heard anything about one, ever) [Edit - No, their record is pretty bad. See my amended take at the bottom]. However as someone with no particular tie to TokyoPop whatsoever (other than devoting a copious amount of my bookshelf to Shojo titles which-shall-not-be-named) this particular agreement is not one of them.

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Queenie in Trouble!

And now for something completely different, awesome, awesomely different:

Bunny Fox 1922-2007

A. Bernice

Bernice “Bunny” Fox, 1922-2007

My fraternal grandmother was an extraordinary lady. Like many of her time she survived extraordinary hardship and difficult times, but she did so with style and aplomb, managing to raise a close and loving family that has remained so to this day. I could write at length about many of the qualities I admired about her: Her adaptability growing up during the depression, the difficulties of being a RCMP officer’s wife while raising a family of three… reckless… boys, or her grace and spirit successfully fighting flesh eating disease in 1998.

Instead, if I can learn from any of her examples, I’d like to remember her indomitable zest for life – be it playing cards with friends, watching sports (of which she was an avid fan of the Calgary Flames, Toronto Blue Jays, and Saskatchewan Roughriders), or enjoying good food or company of any kind unapolagetically. While our entire family will keenly feel her loss for a very long time – I personally take comfort in that Nana lived each of her days to the fullest up and until her sudden but peaceful passing this morning while watching her beloved Calgary Flames win on Hockey Night in Canada.

I love you and miss you.

- Brad

Copyright Clouds Are Gathering

there's a storm a-comin'

All signs are pointing to Industry Minister Jim Prentice introducing Canada’s long-awaited copyright reform bill into the house of commons within the next week or two. Sadly, all signs are pointing to this as-yet unborn legislation being even more restrictive than the stillborn bill C-60, which was the Martin governments stab at the same thing.

The general impression seems to be that the new legislation will boil down to being a “Digital Millenium Copyright Act v2.0″ (the DMCA being the U.S. equivalent legislation introduced seven years ago, and one of the most mis-applied and ineffective (link your own MPAA/RIAA study of choice on piracy here) pieces of software in my memory.

I’ve started a half-dozen follow-up paragraphs trying to encapsulate why you should care. I’m aware the prospect of following Canadian government legislation on copyright reform is… not particularly appealing, but you should care. This is a critical issue to Canadian content creators of all stripes (artists, actors, writers, producers, musicians, teachers, researchers, academics…) and equally important to all Canadian content consumers (everyone). It will influence what types of entertainment and educational content you can watch, and how you can watch it, and who you have to pay to watch it. It will influence what types of entertainment and educational content you can create, and how you create it, and who is the gatekeeper to distribution. It will influence how much it costs to buy an iPod, and whether academics can be sud for research by corporations who don’t like their findings, and weather or not we want US Government to be able to not only influence Canadian policy, but to (by some accounts) write it outright.

This is not a partisan issue (the Liberal proposal was awful as well), this is an issue about Canada having a chance to be a strong Global leader in progressive copyright… or capitulating to U.S. Pressure to copy a bill whose own architect says “Canadian copyright law is already stronger and better than that of the US.