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Author Topic: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?  (Read 1539 times)

Frank

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Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« on: 19 May, 2019, 09:29:41 pm »

Thrillpower Overload describes how IPC tempted Pat Mills into creating 2000ad with the promise that the title would be 'contracted out' (page 12). Creators would have a continuing financial stake in work they originated.

Though IPC later withdrew that offer, prompting Mills (and Wagner, who he'd invited to recreate their Battle partnership) to down tools (page 12), those are the terms under which the launch strips, including Dredd, were created.

Pat Mills accepted a bigger paycheck to return and launch 2000ad on IPC's terms, but Wagner - a freelancer, not an employee - only ever worked on the nascent Dredd under the original terms.


STRAP YOURSELF IN FOR THIS


IPC were free to withdraw those terms, but that doesn't mean they owned the characters created under those terms. Wagner would have to assign them his copyright.

Under the old IPC system, that was done by creators completing a docket and signing the back of the cheque they were depositing/cashing.


BUT WAGNER NEVER DID THIS   (to be read in an Adam Curtis voice)


From an interview Wagner gave to the 2000ad Thrillcast:

'IPC still didn’t speak to me. As far as they were concerned I wasn’t there. In fact, in order to pay me, Pat had to write scripts himself and pay them to me. I realised I had been getting royalties from some of these scripts, like Mach One, and had to tell them to stop paying me because they weren’t mine'


So Wagner signed the back of cheques, but not cheques for developing or even writing Judge Dredd. John Wagner never assigned IPC his copyright for creating Judge Dredd. *

IPC NEVER owned Judge Dredd. That invalidates all subsequent changes of hand between publishers, since Judge Dredd was never IPC's to sell. Any subsequent contracts could be invalid if predicated on prior agreements.



* This is the same loophole that got Hilary Robinson the rights to her characters back. So there's precedent, although that case was never tried in court.

shaolin_monkey

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #1 on: 20 May, 2019, 12:44:05 am »

davidbishop

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #2 on: 20 May, 2019, 07:42:00 am »
I believe John and Carlos both signed new contracts in the 1990s, affirming what had been accepted as custom and practice. Setting aside Pat's gripes about FFTV and wasted money, one thing that short-lived did prompt was the tidying up of many [if not all] contractual anomalies leftover from the IPC era.

CalHab

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #3 on: 20 May, 2019, 08:07:56 am »
I'm going to assume that John Wagner has taken advice on this subject, given the amount of money this would involve, and half-informed internet speculation is going to have less value than actual paid-for legal advice.

Plus what David Bishop says above.

GordonR

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #4 on: 20 May, 2019, 08:35:13 am »
...i...half-informed internet speculation...

Oh, I think you’re giving Frank’s characteristic shit-stirring way too much credit there.

Will Cooling

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #5 on: 20 May, 2019, 02:03:10 pm »
I think it would also be very difficult for John to prove actual ownership of Judge Dredd. After all Pat as 2000AD Editor overruled his objections to Ezquerra's depiction of the character. Then there was the significant work that Pat and other early writers did to bash it into shape, in terms of fleshing out Dredd and his world. That's before you consider how the IP has grown over the years with the contribution of other writers.

Also IIRC what was written in TPO, Robinson's claim for her characters was actually based on having used some of them in her novels beforehand.
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Frank

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #6 on: 20 May, 2019, 02:21:29 pm »
I'm going to assume that John Wagner has taken advice on this subject, given the amount of money this would involve, and half-informed internet speculation is going to have less value than actual paid-for legal advice.

I wasn't thinking of that, bud. I was thinking about Wagner saying he's going to ask Tharg to pay Ezquerra's family for any new Strontium Dog stories. Which is asking Tharg to go above and beyond the terms of IPC's deal and whatever contract they've signed since.

What Wagner says he'll ask for are something like the 'contracted out' terms under which 2000ad was originally created (see above). Not ownership; a continuing financial stake. I was thinking a stake in Strontium Dog might be worth a little or not much*.

I was thinking that a stake in Dredd, of any size, would be worth more and more often. And I was thinking that framing that in terms of honouring the completely unique original terms of its creation would be a way of making an exception to the current deal without establishing a precedent. **

Which might be a worry. For Tharg.


* New Stront might be a big hit and a regular fixture, or it could turn out like the Rogue Trooper, Harlem Heroes, Mean Arena, Mean Team, VCs, and Strontium Dogs reboots.
** Since only the small number of creators involved in the pre-launch comic would have any claim on those terms

Trout

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #7 on: 20 May, 2019, 03:44:13 pm »
Betteridge's Law applies here. The answer to the headline is, as usual, "no".

Frank, you should be better than this attention-seeking. Often your posts are informative but what you've done here isn't impressive.

sheridan

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #8 on: 20 May, 2019, 05:00:49 pm »
New Stront might be a big hit and a regular fixture, or it could turn out like the Rogue Trooper, Harlem Heroes, Mean Arena, Mean Team, VCs, and Strontium Dogs reboots.

I get that Rogue Trooper and Harlem Heroes were reboots (though RT got tied in to continuity at a later stage), but how are VCs and Strontium Dogs reboots?  Also - I don't recall Mean Arena and Mean Team* ever getting rebooted, sequelised or anything of the sort.

* Well, Survivor, illustrated by Ron Smith, but that's a spin-off one-off.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #9 on: 20 May, 2019, 05:28:37 pm »
but how are VCs and Strontium Dogs reboots?

The Abnett/Williams VCs was explicitly a sequel rather than a reboot, surely?
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Funt Solo

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #10 on: 20 May, 2019, 06:56:05 pm »
Frank, you've discovered pure green!
fate amenable to change

Richard

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Frank

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #12 on: 20 May, 2019, 08:04:45 pm »
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/58/section/5

Thanks, Richard but - as I made clear above - litigation wasn't what I had in mind. More importantly, it isn't on the minds of those involved.

Quick summary of what was on my mind: an exception to existing terms is requested regarding Strontium Dog. An exception concerning Judge Dredd achieves the aims of the request more effectively and with fewer repercussions regarding other creators.

It's almost certainly something that's been considered before, and it's probably something those involved would genuinely like to do. It might not make the creators a fortune, but that means it wouldn't cost the copyright holder a fortune either.


GISH-GALLOP TANGENT: I used the term reboot to denote the replacement of the original creator(s), rather than a resetting of narrative. Thus, Alan Hebden's Mean Team and Dan Abnett's VCs were - in my perverted worldview, little better than communism - reboots. I'm happy to compromise and agree that the strips I listed were sequels or continuations, which new Strontium Dog might be, too. They're sequels and continuations that were either failures or as short-lived as New Strontium Dog could be, with the obvious repercussions for benefits accrued to the estate of its creator - which is my point and why I mentioned those sequels and continuations.  Alan McKenzie & Anthony Williams's Mean Arena was, by any definition, a reboot, and symptomatic of the form.

Funt Solo

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #13 on: 20 May, 2019, 11:22:18 pm »
IPC NEVER owned Judge Dredd. That invalidates all subsequent changes of hand between publishers, since Judge Dredd was never IPC's to sell. Any subsequent contracts could be invalid if predicated on prior agreements.

litigation wasn't what I had in mind.

2 + 2 = 5?
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Frank

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Re: Do John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra own Judge Dredd?
« Reply #14 on: 21 May, 2019, 12:30:52 am »
2 + 2 = 5?

I think IPC's copyright claim was invalid. Honouring the original terms under which the work was created wouldn't involve the courts.

'We'd been promised to be allowed to do 2000ad as a contracted out job (not in-house) and would have more than a writer's interest in it - a profit motive. (Pat) called me in to talk over lots of stories and we developed one or two of them. I had been involved for a few weeks, I'd done Dredd and put a lot of imagination and creativity into it - more than just the usual work for hire deal. But the IPC board turned it down after all the work had been done on it.

Wagner speaking in Judge Dredd The Mega-history, p.19