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Mark Waid On Copyright and File Sharing

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Mark Waid's keynote speech at this past weekend's Harvey Awards apparently caused a bit of a stir. Scott Kurtz recounts what was said and throws in his two cents:

Apparently I missed all the hullabaloo at this year’s Harvey Awards. As I was up introducing our first presenter a war was waging a couple tables to my left. After delivering his keynote speech, in which he discussed the issues of copyright and ownership versus contributing to the greater culture, Mark Waid attempted to return to his seat. But he never made it. Because cartoonist Sergio Aragones confronted Waid face to face, right there during the award ceremony, to argue the point.

I had a chance to talk to Mark about it today. And I apologized for not noticing what had happened because if I had I would have defended him at the podium to the crowd. And frankly, it’s shocking that I managed to stand up at the front of the room and not realize what was happening. But that’s how it went down.

After the awards we went straight to bed because I had an early flight out the next morning. So I wasn’t privy to the post-show bar conversation. I didn’t even realize there had been an argument until I read about it the next day waiting in the airport for my flight out of Baltimore to board.

And the more I read all the blogs about the subject, the angrier I get about it. Because everyone seems to be missing the point. And on the way to missing the point they’re misrepresenting both Mark Waid and Sergio Aragones. And that’s not fair to either party or the importance of the subject matter.

Mark’s speech reminded everyone that copyright was invented to limit the amount of time that a family or estate could lay claim to an idea after the death of that idea’s creator. That it was not created to protect the creator or ensure that their family line could forever control their intellectual property. He suggested that contributing to the greater culture is something artists should consider as important (maybe more important) than making a living as an artist. And then he made the boldest statement of the evening by suggesting that the file-sharing genie was out of the bottle and rather than spend fruitless hours trying to get it back in, we should all just stop being afraid of this new culture and instead embrace it and try to harness its power.

And as much as I respect and admire Sergio Aragones, I find it completely inappropriate that he would confront Mark about the speech right there and then. And this is coming from a man who knowingly and willingly made a holocaust and auto erotic asphyxiation joke during the course of his duties as emcee that night. Disagree with him fine. But how about RESPECTFULLY disagreeing with him.

I find it laughable that anyone in the comic industry would scoff at someone trying to explore new business models. This is an industry that requires a charity to care for it’s infirm. Twenty minutes after Mark gave his speech, Tim Sale received a humanitarian award for his work with the Hero Initiative and joked that he expected his efforts returned one day because he has no health insurance and would eventually need to be taken care of. If you’re a member of an industry that let Dave Cockrum die in a VA hospital after helping give us most of the X-Men characters that comprised three blockbuster films and you get pissy about what Mark Waid said, then you deserve to remain on this sinking ship.

When Diamond Comics can’t make money despite being a monopoly, it’s time to start listening to people like Mark Waid.

Half of the people he delivered his speech to were over the age of 50, currently not working on a project in comics, and are most likely without health insurance, retirement or savings accounts.

Mark Waid had the audacity to warn a group of people he cares about, that nobody is putting the internet in a god damn DeLorean and driving it 88mph towards the twin pines mall. And for that he got dressed down by Santa Claus in front of his peers.

That’s how scared people are right now.

And the bottom line of it all is that in about 5 years, a lot of people are going to owe Mark Waid a fucking apology.

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I happen to think that Mark Waid is about the only person in the industry actually doing something worthwhile.

He is being incredibly creative, leading a company on the cutting edge of storytelling and has vision for how things will be in the coming years. Aragones is without class if you ask me. Waid is right. It's sad that it has to come to this but it's true.

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