ComixLaunch | 051 – Kickstarter & Contracts with Comics Lawyer Dirk Vanover

In today’s session, Tyler brings on Dirk Vanover of Vanover Legal to talk comics, Kickstarter, contracts and more. Legal issues aren’t something that law-1012473_960_720many creators pay much attention to… but as high profile cases in the comic and crowdfunding space demonstrate, it can be costly not to.


Today’s Session is brought to you by

Split Lip

Today’s Session is sponsored the Split Lip 10th Anniversary Kickstarter. 350 pages of dangerous stories for curious minds. Learn more at ComixLaunch.com/splitlip


Session Table Setting

Thanks for the great feedback on ComixLaunch 50! Very excited to have pulled that piece together for you, and equally excited to start fresh on the next 50 sessions of ComixLaunch!

Do you have questions about contracts? What about your legal liability of fulfillment as a Kickstarter creator?
It’s funny, over the past several weeks, I’ve been emailed by quite a few creators looking for legal advice on one thing or another… and I’ve been sending them directly to today’s guest.  Yes, I’m thrilled to announce that ComixLaunch now has a go to legal expert… who will hopefully be a recurring guest on the show, as I know legal questions often trip creators up.

 

Listener Feedback

Don’t let the title keep you away, it’s more than comics! – Created4HisGlory
“This podcast isn’t just for comic “fans”. I am working on a campaign that is in a completely different category and this podcast has helped me more than anything. Every time I hear the word “comic”, I just insert my own word. It’s truly a very helpful podcast.”

Thanks so much…
Super glad to hear that…

And yes, I recognize that the name ComixLaunch might make it harder to win-over people outside of the Comics, Graphic Novels and publishing space…
But it’s positive reviews like yours that definitely help.
Why the name ComixLaunch then? Why not something broader?  A mistake a lot of us make is we go too broad because we don’t want to turn anyone away, and as a result we don’t attract anyone particular.  If right now I have the #1 Kickstarter podcast for Comics Creators, it’s a small niche, but I would rather be #1 in a small niche and expand out from there, than be unremarkable in a big niche.
Now, at some point, I may revisit this, if it does seem like growth as capped by the name, but no plans on a brand change any time soon.
But just like Comic-Con has expanded to cover so much more than just comics, ComixLaunch was always meant to have tremendous value to creators of all stripes looking to bring their projects to life.
So if that’s you, inside or outside of comics… you’re in the right place and I’m thrilled to have you here.

 

Reminder —
Session 50 is in the rear view mirror, but there’s still time to enter the SuperShow Book Bundle Giveaway… 7 winners will be chosen, great odds.
ComixLaunch.com/supershowbundle to register to win.

What is Today’s Episode About?

Guest Introduction

My guest today is the founder of Vanover Legal, LLC, a company committed to delivering legal advice and guidance to clients quickly and effectively, and without unnecessary expense.  He’s also an avid comic book fan, and loves diving deep into trademark, copyright, and right of publicity issues, which we all know pop up often in the world of comics.  He also blogs about business and legal issues affecting the comics and entertainment industries at ComicsLawyer.com

Welcome to ComixLauch, Mr. Dirk Vanover

I need to thank you for reaching out to me… I get a lot of questions posed to me from listeners that have to do with the law, and I want to help them… but don’t want to send them in the wrong direction.  I know you’ve been a Guest Lecturer at the International School of Comics and have spoken on panels… so I’m really excited to have you on to talk to my audience today.  When people think of the Law, they don’t really think of comic books… but maybe they should.  I know two comic retailers, Carmelo Chimera of Chimera’s Comics and Ernie Pelletiere who also practice the law. Writer Charles Soule is also a lawyer…  Before we get into the heart of today’s episode, I’d love to hear how you got interested in comics?

 

What is Today’s Episode About?

Now, the topic of The Law… it’s a little scary and it’s a BIG topic. There’s so much we could cover, and definitely more than what we could cover well in the time we have, so I wanted to pick a topic that will be relevant to my entire audience, and one you know well, and that’s the topic of Contracts.

Guiding Discussion Questions

1) Before we dive in deep in the topic of Contracts as it relates to comics and Kickstarter, can you start by giving us some basic things we should understand about contracts? What’s the legal definition of a contract, what makes a contract binding or legitimate, and so forth… what should creators know in general, before we dive into specifics?

2) Okay, let’s dive into a little more specifics for creators and my listeners in particular… while many creators will be offered contracts by publishers, licensors, and so forth… the most common contracts will be between creators and other creators… and this is problematic because most creators aren’t legal scholars and many don’t have (or don’t think they can afford) the resources to higher a lawyer before they get started collaborating to make a book. What are some best practices independent creators should employ or things to think about when they enter into contracts with other independent creators?

3) Protecting IP is a big deal for a lot of creators… but also something that holds a lot of people back… waiting Trademark protection for toys, video games, and a movie before you’ve written a single page of your next great idea clearly isn’t a smart thing to do… What are the basics creators should know or do before they go bigger with their projects on KS.
4) Comics has actually seen it’s fair share of famous legal disputes

i. McFarlane v. Gaiman (Angela)
ii. Alan Moore v. DC (reversion of rights to Watchmen/V for Vendetta)
iii. Moore v. Kirkman (The Walking Dead)

Besides obviously the spectator value of these things… what should creators take away from these famous cases?

5) While Kickstarter has been tremendously successful at bringing amazing projects to life, there have been some spectacular failures as well. While it’s infrequent, some of these big failures have resulted in lawsuits. What should ComixLaunch listeners know about their liability and responsibilities to deliver from a legal perspective?
Bonus Question: One of my students is working on a project he’s describing as a satirical art book which is a comment on our modern desensitization to violence where Super Mario gets killed on every page by one of his enemies. He’s hoping to be able to bring this to Kickstarter next year. Now, this immediately sends up warning bells for me… Is he in danger of getting sued for copyright infringement? What should he keep in mind and is there a way he can do something in the spirit of what he’s trying to do… while not running afoul of the law?


Sponsor Mid-Roll

In a moment, I’m going to give you today’s ComixLauncher, but first, we need to thank our sponsor…

Split Lip

Sam Costello started Split Lip in 2006 to bring a new kind of horror to comics, a horror based on unsettling ideas that leave you so scared you’ll never want to turn the lights off.
Now, for Split Lip’s 10th anniversary, he’s got a Kickstarter for a 350-page deluxe, limited-edition hardcover.
The book features 13 stories and 50-plus pages of all-new bonus material. The stories are drawn by artists like Kyle Strahm, who draws Spread for Image, and Sami Makkonen, artist for Deadworld at IDW.
Check out the Kickstarter at ComixLaunch.com/splitlip.
As a special bonus, ComixLaunch listeners who back Split Lip receive Bringing Your Webcomic to Print, 10 lessons Sam learned from 10 years making comics that can save you time, aggravation, and money.
Every Split Lip story is complete and self-contained. So, whether you’ve been reading it since 2006 or starting now, the 10th anniversary book is for you.
If you enjoy dangerous stories for curious minds, check out the Split Lip 10th Anniversary Kickstarter at ComixLaunch.com/splitlip.

ComixLauncher

It’s time for today’s ComixLauncher.
A ComixLauncher is a short, actionable activity you can do immediately after listening to the show. They’re all activities I’ve done myself, and will get you one step closer to a successful ComixLaunch. They’ll transform this Podcast from a passive, lean back activity centered around Tyler James, into an active, lean-forward activity centered around YOU and your projects.

ComixLauncher 051
Give Dirk’s Comics Startup 101 Article a Read.
Comics Startup 101 – http://www.comicslawyer.com/2016/05/comics-startup-101-beginning.html

Important we treat our business like a business.
Please share your results @ comixlaunch.com/voicemail or in an email [email protected]


Wrap Up

Wrap Up Questions

1) What’s one book (comic or otherwise) more people should be reading?

Dan Doherty “Touching Evil”

2) One parting piece of advice for the ComixLaunch audience?

 

3) If there’s one post over at ComicsLawyer.com that the ComixLaunch audience should check out that I can include in the show notes, what would it be?

Fan Art article at comicslawyer.com and Comic Startup 101 article

4) What’s the best way to connect with you?

[email protected]

vanoverlegal.com

comicslawyer.com

 


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