Those signs and drawings? Now illegal.
Gary Friedrich co-created Ghost Rider for Marvel and currently depends on the small amount of money he makes at conventions to support himself. In 2007, he sued Marvel and others alleging the rights to the character belonged to the creators because Marvel didn’t register the character’s first appearance in 1972 with the U.S. Copyright Office. Marvel countersued Friedrich for damages for his selling Ghost Rider merchandise online and at conventions.
The final judgement is in, and Daniel Best has the court documents available at his site. Marvel will drop their countersuit if Friedrich pays them $17,000, relinquishes his co-creator credit, and stops selling his own Ghost Rider sketches or other Ghost Rider merchandise. He’s allowed to autograph Ghost Rider merchandise for pay, but it has to be officially-licensed merchandise and he can’t promote himself as the creator of the character on that merchandise he’s signing, which is frickin’ ridiculous. How does that even work? He can sign officially licensed merchandise but can’t tell people he’s the co-creator if there’s a money exchange involved? Oh, that’ll sell merch. People love buying stuff with sharpie marks on it from a guy who doesn’t say who he is or why he’s scribbling on this stuff.
This now means that Gary Friedrich has the right to appeal, and appeal he shall, but it also means that he now owes Marvel Comics, a multi-million dollar making machine, backed by the multi-billion dollar Disney company, $17,000 and cannot ever sell anything related to Ghost Rider, nor can he even say that he created Ghost Rider for any form of gain or advertising. [...] As Friedrich himself has stated, he is unemployed, has no real assets and is, for all intents and purposes, destitute. $17,000 might be chump change for some, but for someone in Friedrich’s situation it’s a lot of cash. [Daniel Best, emphasis ours]
Friedrich didn’t get jack for the first Ghost Rider film, nor is he being paid anything for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance which opens next Friday. For Friedrich and many other artists in the comics business, selling sketches, prints, and other self-made merchandise at conventions becomes the thing which pays the bills because they aren’t getting royalties on those million and billion dollar franchises they helped create. This ruling doesn’t just hurt Friedrich, but could open the door to other lawsuits against artists selling their own sketches.
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