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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Leasing rights & independence  (Read 797 times)
madelf
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« on: May 28, 2006, 08:51:19 AM »

I'm posting this as a split from this thread
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19891.0
because I think it's a little off track for that topic.

Some of the later comments in that thread got me thinking.

It seems that what Pelgrane was describing for his publishing plan (working with a creator of IP to publish and market for them) is not entirely unlike what Ron (and Ralph) described when talking about leasing of artwork.

If the creative person (call them writer, creator, game designer, whatever) who is working with Pelgrane in that scenario has the option of still using his IP as he sees fit, selling it to someone else, publishing it elsewhere, publishing it himself, whatever (which would be the case if he actually owns the IP and the rights to it - which is what Pelgrane claimed)... then, just as the artist still has the ultimate control over the art in Ron's example, then that creative person has the ultimate control over his creation as well. If leasing the right for someone else to use the artwork doesn't take away that control over the IP and the money that might be made from it, then how would leasing the right for someone to publish his game take away that control over the IP and money?

So it seems like if that artist falls within the definition of independent, then so would the creative person working with a publisher in the manner described. Or so it appears to me.

Thoughts?
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Calvin W. Camp

Mad Elf Enterprises
- Freelance Art & Small Press Publishing
-Check out my clip art collections!-
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2006, 09:00:53 AM »

That's generally correct. You won't find any statements from me in any publishing posts or essays about "leasing is bad," or anything like that. In fact, I thought it was pretty cool for Greg Stafford to permit Red Moon to publish their Glorantha books on their own hook.

However, what's vanishingly rare are successful instances of such an arrangement. I've seen a whole lot of pretty claims about how person A is going to "take care of all the boring bits" for person B who can "go ahead and just create," and they've all ended in disasters. The disasters are based on two related things: (1) person A basically starts functioning as the boss because the "boring bits" need a boss to handle them, and (2) person B never gets into the mental habit of exerting authority over policy and money. So even if that authority is tacitly assumed to be there, then hey - it doesn't seem to get into the picture somehow.

Now, as I''m about to go over and post in Simon's thread, he has just stated a key and brutal point that makes me cock my head and listen. He said: the author-person has total veto authority over the project at any stage.

Huh. That's new. I haven't seen that in any such "I'll help you publish!" proposals before. That interests me greatly.

I'll develop that idea more fully in that thread.

Best, Ron

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madelf
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2006, 10:32:25 AM »

Yes, Simon's claim of allowing full veto was a head turner. Now I'm not sure if it was better to start this thread to discuss the idea hypothetically, or just post in that thread. Since I started here, I guess I'll continue for now and see how it develops. Please let me know if you'd like me to let this one die off and take the discussion back there.

I don't know if the veto thing would necessarily be a defining factor though, if the "artist as independent" model is accurate. Does the artist you get illustrations from have veto power on how you use them? I would think not, as having the artist decide you didn't get the colors right on your latest print run and pulling the rights for you to use the art would be troublesome to say the least.

But even without the veto, there is still a level of independence there because the original creator (though he may not be able to say exactly how the publisher uses his creation) can still use the creation, himself, as he sees fit. If the publishing "lease" were for a limited time with a renewable arrangement, then there would be even more control still in the creator's hands. At the time the "lease" came up, he could renew or go his own way (sort of a delayed veto).

I'd tend to agree that it would be a tricky thing to implement, and I can only recall of one instance of something that sounded similar (which did not end happily). Unfortunately I can't even recall the name of the product line now, but it was basically a situation where the creator was unsatisfied with what the publisher was doing and, since he owned the IP, he made and published his own version. What he didn't have was the veto, so the other publisher was still putting the game out, and there ended up being two conflicting versions on the market. Not a great scenario.

I believe it's somewhat more common in the traditional book publishing world, where an author holds the copyright and there might even be multiple publishers putting out different versions of the same book. I'm still not sure how common it actually is.

In the end I'd be inclined to think that a limited and renewable license would generally be a better compromise than a creator veto option. The veto (if it were able to be applied at any time) would significantly handicap the publisher, I would think. A limited renewable license would provide something very similar, without putting all of the risk on the publisher. 
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Calvin W. Camp

Mad Elf Enterprises
- Freelance Art & Small Press Publishing
-Check out my clip art collections!-
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2006, 12:44:07 PM »

It sounds like Simon's still working it out, and I figure we should give him some space to develop it into models he can offer confidently. As it stands, he weathered a full-on debate/assault from both me and Ralph, and came out standing, which as I'm sure you know, isn't something any other "hey I'll help you publish" guy has ever done before. Pretty good for a few days' posting!

If you got the answers you wanted about the basic leasing, though, then we might be done in this thread. If not, let's stick with that, for this one, and continue.

Best, Ron
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