The webcomics blog about webcomics


Editor’s note: No photo today, because it would give away the surprise at the end. You understand.

Whew boy, today has kicked my ass. Let’s look at what surprised me in the past day or so.

  • Not surprising: Box Brown’ long-percolating biocomic of Andre the Giant earned him some love from CBR for the just-released cover.

    Less expected: Grantland, the bloggy aspect of ESPN’s online empire, did an interview with Brown in advance of the comic’s release. This may be the harbinger of the fabled Jock-Nerd Convergence, as was foretold in the beforetimes by the Truthsayer.

  • Not surprising: Big magazine does a listicle of webcomics it likes.

    Pretty damn nervy, actually: after grabbing snippets of comics to run on their site (many of which are licensed as Creative Commons NonCommercial), they then offered the creators the exciting opportunity to quote specific sections of the article to promote themselves, for a modest fee. Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s an excerpt from an email sent to one of the creators, in response to the simple question, Are you trying to get me to give you money?


    Thanks for your reply. [other employee] reached out to you because your [comic] was featured in our Best Web Comics story.

    Licensing is not free but to my knowledge you have not used any of our content commercially so no, this is not an attempt to collect money.

    Many companies like to leverage recognition like this to promote their products/services/apps/games/etc. I am here to let you know we can facilitate any needs you have to use this recognition.

    Here are examples of how others have used their recognition from to promote their brands…[link removed]

    If you wish to use our trademarks or quotes to promote [comic] I’m here to help. Use of those trademarks and/or quotes requires licensing which is fee based.


    [name omitted because I’m a nice guy]
    Licensing Manager
    Ziff Davis Inc.

    So to sum: Ziff Davis Inc. makes money by driving clicks via a listicle, then graciously allows the people whose work it is referencing to specifically quote the story title¹, but if they want to actually quote the article, or maybe show a screenshot that might incorporate a ZD logo, they have to pay for the privilege to display it for one year which will in turn promote the magazine that gets the license fee. To quote the creator’s reply to this “generous” offer:

    I can’t decide if Kafka or Orwell wrote this!

    Me neither.

  • Completely coincidentally and without any reference to any publisher’s hubris whatsoever: look what I got in the mail today.

¹ Excerpt from the original pitch letter:

Here are instances where you featured on The quotes available for you to license are mentioned in Bold below (this quote can be used with the logo or text). All license rights are for one year.

Which included the following explanatory boilerplate:

In order to maintain the esteem and integrity surrounding our logos, PCMag and Ziff Davis, Inc. must grant rights and permission prior to the use of any material. Ziff Davis, Inc. makes its content available only subject to the terms of licensing agreement. This is standard with all of our clients and we are vigilant in safeguarding our content for misuse. You currently are permitted, without need for license, to reproduce on your website the headline of an article published on any of our websites, as long as it is not for commercial purposes and is limited to the following use only, as stated in Section 107 of the United States Copyright Law: Criticism, Comment, News reporting, Teaching, Scholarship and Research. However no part of our content, reviews and articles may be used for commercial purposes without a license.

Sadly, I’m not surprised to see this behavior from Ziff Davis.

AND in the item for “Reptilis Rex”, they outed the real name of its creator. WAY TO BE TOTAL ASSHOLES, Ziff Davis… or should I call you by your REAL NAME… Ziff Hitler?

So let me get this straight..Ziff Davis has used webcomic art for commercial purposes (and likely without the IP owners’ permission), and then have the audacity to think *they* can charge the IP owners to use excerpts, and not pay the artists anything for using *their* material? Wow.

ZD are part of a corporate entity. Wholly soulless and devoid of persons while PC mag is itself described as a solely online piece of shite
The infamous Hearst scumbags had a brief interest/involvement following bankruptcy initiated by ZD. Doubtless Hearst’s influencing effect is what is now occurring though they appear to have passed ZD on to another bunch of fuckwits.

[…] you don’t know what license fees I’m talking about, see yesterday’s post where we learn that boilerplate approaches to convincing somebody that your endorsement is really, […]

[…] review of their work when you’ve already copied their strips into it, but that’s what PCMag and Ziff Davis tried. Thankfully, Ryan Estrada pointed out that fair use generally allows such quotation. Gary Tyrrell […]

If it’s not legal to quote the title of an article to say something about it for commercial purposes, news would be illegal. How would news reporting work if you had to pay everyone a license fee to talk about them?

Ignore for a moment whether ZD is being nasty. Do they have a legal leg to stand on or not?

@phil Just because it’s written in legal-eze, doesn’t make it a legally binding contract that News reporters are signing themselves up to!


[…] mainly about the double standard. Ryan Estrada:… Fleen:… Article in Question: […]

It just occurred to me that by licensing that listicle, it becomes an advertisement: A commercial instrument. Licensing it to you (ignoring the recursiveness for now) then has “effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work”. It becomes an ad if one person pays that fee and then… they owe you money for use of your IP in their ad. Holy Bizarro World, Batman!

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