DC to Bill: No, Fables isn’t in the Public Domain
Yesterday was all sorts of crazy as writer Bill Willingham released a statement claiming that he was putting Fables into the public domain. The reason was his preceived mistreatment by the publisher DC Comics.
While many latched on to it as a victory and blow to corporations who mistreat creators, those that know copyright and trademark knew something wasn’t quite right. We mentioned in our original coverage that in the end, what’s in the contract (which hasn’t been released) is what matters. Like Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy, this isn’t how things really work.
Now, DC Comics has released a corporate statement:
The Fables comic books and graphic novels published by DC, and the storylines, characters and elements therein, are owned by DC and protected under the copyright laws of the United States and throughout the world in accordance with applicable law, and are not in the public domain. DC reserves all rights and will take such action as DC deems necessary or appropriate to protect its intellectual property rights.
We’ve only gotten Willingham’s side of the story beyond DC’s corporate statement (which are rare). There’s most likely much more to the story and all of Willingham’s claims and complaints.
In the end, without seeing the contracts and all of the paperwork since, no one will know for sure what the reality of all of this is. So, for those wannabe Spartacus, it’s best to proceed with caution unless you have deep pockets for a potential court fight.