Getting Paid for… Co-Creating awesome stuff like the game Twister and Superman Reply

Getting paid for creating wildly successful stuff can take many forms and is an important part of the creative process. Often stuff that becomes wildly successful (like the Superman comic and the game Twister) start out as humble creative endeavors created by two co-creators. For example: superman

  • SUPERMAN was created by Seigel and Schuster who created a comic book out of four weeks worth of comic strips that they couldn’t sell. They sold the comic book along with their rights to the creation for $130. (long-running litigation has ensued regarding the existence, validity and scope of an agreement transferring the rights to Superman).
  • TWISTER was created by Foley (a game designer) and Rabens (an artist) who were awarded a twisterUS Patent (No. 3,454,279) for their invention of an “apparatus for playing a game wherein the players constitute the game pieces.” Evidently Foley did not receive royalties for the game; however, he did negotiate a buyout and sold his rights. (According to a Mr. Foley’s obituary this past week, he accepted about $27,000 in a negotiated buyout).

It’s interesting to compare these deals. Did the creators have any idea that their creations would become iconic? Probably not. At least not in the case of Superman. If Superman’s co-creators had known how famous their creation would become, they probably would have negotiated a higher price, residual rights, royalties and possibly reserved merchandising rights.

Personally, I am a big fan of both Superman and Twister! I am in awe of the creative minds who created these gems… and I encourage folks to negotiate creative deals to maximize revenue from their creations. You never know…. your creation could become a cultural icon.

For more information on the ongoing Superman litigation, see also, http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/cacdce/2:2004cv08400/166317/; http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2013/03/superman-legal-battle-isnt-over-yet-siegels-try-a-new-strategy/; http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-06-13/marc-toberoff-supermans-lawyer; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

A Signature Seals the Deal (Get agreements SIGNED!) Reply

pencilsFar too often, the fun creative vibe that moves artists and musicians to collaborate on brilliant work… overlooks the need to have the terms of the deal put into writing and signed.  GET IT SIGNED FOLKS!

If you are writing music together and agree to split the royalties 50/50 –write it down, date and sign it!  If you are a freelancer submitting sketches to a toy producer – write down a few simple terms as to who owns unused submissions, date and sign it!  Similarly, if your business is membership driven – write down your membership terms, date and have members sign it!

Even if the agreement seems obvious and understood by everyone involved, take 5 minutes to write it down, date and sign it!

Just last week, news came out that a renowned art and decorating extravaganza that takes place annually in NYC and makes over $1 million …was postponed by 6 months because the organizers never signed an agreement guaranteeing them to use the designated show space.   Consequently, the show space was sold out from under them and they were back to square one.  They thought they had a deal… but they didn’t, because it wasn’t signed.  Keep this from happening to you.  Get a signature to seal the deal!!