Microsoft, Apple, Marvel, DC, Boom Studios, FBI, HTML Comics and suing customers to own them

On my mind

A few things.

We’ll start with 2:

1/Marvel and DC trademarking the term Super-Hero and 2/The “Task-Force” of comic companies that unleashed the FBI on HTML comics.

Stick with me, we’ll get to the other stuff. But a lot of it begins here.

With comics.

On the first point, Marvel and DC trademarking the term Super-Hero, yes, as quiet as it is kept these 2 companies have trademarked that term. Originally done in 1978 an odd time, when the field was looking ripe for the plucking. With Charlton on its last legs, and soon to sell their superhero interest to DC. and Time/Kinney/Warner in all its various names having owned DC since 1967, with the Superman Movie on the horizon, the TW/Kinney/WB suits smell… that finally they can make some money from these stupid comic properties. And bringing that studio mentality of trademark everything they’ll let you get away with, they do just that, even partnering (out of necessity) with the only other big player on the field, Marvel Comics, to push their trademark claim through. And having recently (smelling a new generation of superhero money in the water) renewed that trademark.

Trademarking the term super-hero when both companies are quite aware they have no claim to that term. Here is how you know the validity of that trademark. Would DC have been able to trademark the term Superhero without Marvel objecting (and I think successfully spoiling any trademark attempt)? No.

Would Marvel have been able to trademark the term Superhero without DC objecting (and successfully spoiling any trademark attempt)? No.

So if individually neither company has a valid trademark claim, why together should their claim be any more valid?

Answer: It’s not.

I understand they are thinking in terms of 25 year plans, and the new money-making viability of concepts such as comics and superheroes, that were considered, just a decade ago, as beneath notice.

But that mindset taking into consideration, it still takes some fing balls to try and trademark that term, just as it takes a monumental amount of ignorance (or greed) on the US Trademark Office’s part to actually award such a trademark.

But make no mistake, these companies have no more right to trademark that term then they have to trademark the word man or dog or adventurer or witch. It’s part of the popular lexicon and is used by companies besides the so-called “Big 2”. Used before the so-called “Big 2”., and it is used by other companies today. Small startups like Marvel and DC used to be.

If I’m a comic company in the business today, Like BOOM or IDW or Dynamic Forces or Dark Horse or Image, then one of my goals would be putting out a superhero book every other month, or something with superhero on the cover every other month.

Not because you particularly care for Superhero books or have any real interest in that market, but because you one day may have an interest, and you don’t want to, on that day, have to beg Marvel /DC to use that term. You make an issue if it now, because you do not want to roll over for that ideological land-grab by these two companies .

That trade-mark is bs, and any creative person at marvel and DC, is aware it’s bs.

But it is a funny thing, we tend to cede our better natures to the storms that carry us. So while a company may boast talented, creative, and astute, humanitarian people, the actually company they work for may be one step away from barbarism. And because of the storm, they don’t even think of questioning their companies policies (providing they are in positions to do so. Though none of us should be so lowly at a company that we can’t share a constructive viewpoint on that company. If you are unable to, that may be a sign you need to find a different company).

So whether that storm is Marvel or DC or Germany of 1937 or America post 2001, what is best and rational in us, tends to remain quiet to the insane storms that decide to see how far they can blow every so often. But I find that you have to hold your ground, sometimes I think that’s even what the wind is looking for, a man who will stand up to it, until it can put its heavy weight of howling down.

So comic book companies of today would be well served by challenging that particular trademark and getting it thrown out while there is still plentiful proof of prior art, and living reminders to the fact that Marvel and DC did not invent, nor do they own the term super-hero.

*******************

But it never fails, companies that only gained popularity and market share due to certain freedoms, use those freedoms as a ladder, than start outlawing and destroying those freedoms, they burn the ladder, for others. Like robber barons of oil, or rubber or transportation who only gained their status by taking liberties of the most heinous nature, now having the temerity to use their clout to get declared illegal the very practices they used to gain market share!!

Amazing, and predatory and nothing remotely resembling free enterprise, at least not in any sane definition of that term.

In a free enterprise system Linux and not Microsoft would be the major operating system being used. It’s benefits over Microsoft are just staggering, and on a side by side comparison, the best Linux distros, blow Microsoft away!

But what does Microsoft do when they can not out innovate a problem, or buy it out? They get in bed with the movie studios, and they lobby to make various codecs (software) illegal. Like record companies, and every other company these days, they don’t want to earn your business by creating a better product, they want to force, sue, intimidate, and lock, you… their supposed customer, the person they are supposed to be working for, into paying.

21st century companies have become some twisted version of protection rackets selling liquor at the point of a gun. You have to buy their overpriced, and shoddy product, whether you want to or not, or else.

And corporate talking heads, suits, will justify this predatory and clearly immoral business model, as being true to their responsibility to increase revenue for their shareholders.

Anyone who tells you that is full of utter crap.

Fuck the bs about working for shareholders, the purpose of even having shareholders is only to earn money to better innovate and serve your customers. Your real customers! A shareholder is only a means to an end, not the end.

The satisfaction of your customer, and continued improvement of your product is the end. And the fact that companies and wall street have lost sight of this is why, particularly, the American economic outlook is so dire.

It is run by people who increasingly have no fucking common sense. People who lose sight of why they even started a business to begin with.

It wasn’t to crush other companies, and to stifle and outlaw innovation and civil liberties.

Was it Jobs? Was it Gates?

No you started the paltry startup, because it was the fucking wild west, and there was no Microsoft or Apple to legalize you out of the game, and because you were young, and you were having fun, and you had a product you thought was the bomb (yes, I did just say Da Bomb :)), , and the world looked like an endless tomorrow. I was there, I remember.

Microsoft and Apple.

My God, from where you two began how did you get to where you are. Into someplace, odd and petty, and somehow while grandiose and large, somehow… stinking of fear, and afraid of tomorrow.

So that fear at work, Linux basically is legalized into being a crippled system. Competition is legalized away. Law enforcement and the legal system again as thugs, always as thugs, for the deepest pockets.

Companies seeking to take an adversarial approach to their customer base. They seek to maintain and grow their dominance by governmental protections and indeed enforcement of their status qua. That is not free enterprise, this concept of grandfather clauses, and law enforcement and the FBI as the attack dogs of companies from Movie Studios, to Apple and Microsoft, to now the comic book companies.

This recent case of comic companies siccing the FBI on a bloke for offering scans of comics online. And everyone is rushing to roll over or attack or disparage this person’s claim of being a library, or to call it immoral.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I heard someone on a podcast saying “you can’t just call yourself a library.” Why the fuck not? You just called yourself a podcast didn’t you?

Where is your license to do that ?

You don’t need one right now do you? Same with a library.

So shut the fuck up before you do.

It’s getting to the point in this world, because of people who roll over like these fucking podcasters (and yes I like podcasters. But for the love of God, think before you talk), that you are going to need a license even to breathe.

Even to breathe.

The dictionary definition of Library is (if you need one. Or here’s a thought, be original. Define yourself) : A collection of books and a place where books are collected.

It says nothing about you having to be licensed by any particular governmental agency.

It pisses me off when people just roll over and take the side of whoever can pay the press to tell you something. Just cause someone with a badge says it’s wrong don’t make it wrong. Been a long time in this country since the law and right were the same bloody thing.

So the man says he had a library, that’s good enough for me.

Now that said, that definition of his service, does not free him from his responsibility to remove material others feel they have a right to. If indeed he received cease and desist letters for particular works he was holding (that’s another thing that pisses me off, lawyers and their fucking cease and desist letters. Come to someone like a person, before you turn the fucking lawyers loose. You might get someplace that is better than where we’re going, if we can settle things without lawyers first) he should, finding the request valid… comply.

But from what I understand a lot of the site was public domain comics. So I’m not seeing a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and go after this dude civilly and criminally for, bottom line, being a collector.

Maybe not the brightest of collectors, but a collector none the less.

And the lawyer who commented on this case, like lawyers do, is trying to say it’s about sending a message, and a moral victory. Don’t ever say the word moral and the greed of companies (or the culpability of the FBI) in the same sentence. A lawyer has nothing to do with morality.

********************

I like collectors, always have.

I come from a people who believe in Sineaters. Believe there are those who perform a vital, if not always loved or lauded duty, to the health and functioning of a society. For the Sin-eater it was assisting with the passing of the spirit, clean, into the other world.

I think the collector, while no such spiritual heavyweight, still serves still a most significant function in our culture. Particularly the American culture, because we’re in such mercenary hands, where everything is in flux. Buildings, neighborhoods, stadiums, all having a relatively brief life before they are torn down for something else.

That’s not healthy. Never has been. Never will be.

A collector, seeks to maintain things, that the bankers of a culture, may not find value in, but things that should persist, and still have a life, beyond a mercenary and fleeting view of value. Things that in and of themselves… are beautiful or artistic.

In the words of a long remembered poem, “Against the day of trouble, lays by some trifling thing, a smile, a kiss, a flower, for sweet remembering”. That’s what a collector does. It’s an odd calling, neither loved nor lauded, but necessary. Oh so necessary.

This guy was/is a collector.

It’s because of guys like this that we have today copies of films such as Metropolis or The Third Man or any number of beloved Film Noir movies, saved from the bonfires of Studios that did not forsee a financial worth to old films beyond their cinema release, Companies that burned their films, and ordered theaters to do the same, when the films cinema life was up.

Thank god, for collectors, who gave a finger to big companies back then, and said, “you know what, I like this movie, and I want to keep it around, regardless if you think it has no financial value anymore”. Fast forward a few decades and those saved films now become money making DVD releases by studios that in their short sightedness would have let them burn.

Same thing for Old time Radio shows. I love listening to Old Time Radio. I was not around when that stuff came out, but today I love listening to it. I love listening to stuff like THE SHADOW, or SUSPENSE or ESCAPE, etc.

These shows didn’t survive because of the companies that produced them, or the stations that aired them, these shows survived because of collectors.

Because of collectors.

So when people start ragging about so-called “bootleggers” or “scanners” or whatever, I’m always very mindful that it was these often single minded individuals that kept alive much of what otherwise would have been lost to time and neglect.

When the production companies were erasing old tapes because they could not foresee a financial value to them, it was collectors who often, copying this stuff off the air, preserved much of these classic radio programs, and by so doing preserved not just entertainment for a new generation, but a historical record of a time, and a place in a younger America. The same goes for music.

And the same with comics. The comics medium, has survived extremely lean years, because of rabid collectors like this man they have loosed the FBI on.

“A task force to protect their rights.” really?

A man and his family being raked over the coals, because the suits smell money in the water. And they want to play RIAA. And sheep like you just bow your heads, and say “yes massa” and regurgitate words like “copyright infringement” like dogs being taught to beg.

You make me sick. And you know who you are.

Hell the companies finally caught on, years after the fact, to the viability and need for scanning because of collectors. Now I understand companies, finally pulling their head out of their ass and seeing the viability of digital distribution, may see free labors of love, that offer comics for free, as a barrier to their money making schemes. I get that.

I don’t necessarily agree with it.

I think much of the product companies claim is owned should be in public domain.

I think this continued erosion of public domain, by companies that continually push for extension of copyright is utter crap.

I think all concepts that have persisted for 50 years, should be in the public domain.

Because it means these concepts have been around long enough to be part of the cultural language, the cultural conversation and as such, have been both enhanced, diluted, and changed by that conversation.

I think there is a great beauty in anyone being able to do an Edgar Allen Poe story, I think the world is invaluably richer because we have a million different takes on Edgar Allan Poe tales, From Roger Corman to Marc Olden to Jan Svankmajer and the list goes on. We are enriched as a society by everyone being unhindered to use this common concept, that has made its way, survived as part of the cultural conversation.

So I think Superman should be in the public domain, it is a public domain concept, period. So is Batman, and Mickey Mouse, and Captain America, and the Shadow to name a few. And the fact that companies are disputing the public domain status of concepts such as these is just plain criminal.

They all need to join Frankenstein and Don Quixote and… it shows you how bad the 20th century was for the concept of Public Domain, in that you really have to go back to the 19th century to get unchallenged concepts that are in the public domain. And we as a culture and a society are poorer for it.

All that brings us back to the law being used by companies… poorly.

It is being used to deprive the individual and the culture of rights, at the behest and to the benefit of corporations.

When the last days of America are written, that will be the reason. Is the reason.

Corporations are lobbying our supposed representatives to deprive us of rights, so they can make a nickel more.

Comics were immune from this attention for a long time, but with Hollywood dollars focused on the medium, it means we now get Hollywood type “protection” or “hired thugs” whichever you prefer.

We get the F of the B of the I.

We get one of those pleasant acronyms, designed to make us… relent.

Never relent baby.

Never relent.

So in closing my support is always with the Collector. Not the companies, and not the FBI. Because these companies, these bankers of our age, gray men, with gray souls, seeking to make a gray world, do what they do for petty monetary reasons, no different from their earlier versions that burnt films or smashed records, they do nothing for beauty’s sake.

And because of that, nothing these gray men do… will last. Because in the end, even if beauty fades, the things we do for beauty’s sake… will not. These and these alone… persist.

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