Some Free Legal Advice...
...Your Mileage May Vary. Consult A Lawyer.
Free legal advice is always a little sketchy, right? Especially from someone like myself, who is not a lawyer. (Though I am the son of one, so the law has never been far from my mind) Besides, I think I’ve snagged a few pearls of wisdom to share from my two decades in show business.
First, there’s the obvious recommendations. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. Don’t go online and obviously defame someone with egregious lies that are easily disproven. Or, let’s say you had a bad night, and did do that, maybe delete the defaming posts and keep your head down. Those are obvious.
Here’s another freebie I’ll share that might seem obvious, but I see this mistake made especially from folks just getting started in their careers.
Always lawyer up.
If you’e worried about money let me be blunt: their cut was never your cut, and they’ll be there for you if when problems come up, and let’s face it. Over the course of two decades, problems always pop up.
I was talking to my lawyers this week about a variety of topics. I have an IP attorney, a contract attorney and after some bad luck I even have a pair of litigators on my team. They’re fascinating folks, and most are bored at the moment, looking for things to do with the WGA strike in its second month (of course that was obviously a topic of discussion)
The current labor action in the WGA isn’t just about the almost complete demolition of the middle class, it’s also about creating a livable future in an industry that has been hijacked by the Ghouls Of Wall Street.
We create stories. We create businesses. We create jobs. But…
…artificially generated content is here, and boy is it awful.
It’s going to get better. I’m personally not so worried about AI taking my job. It will be a while before it can break your heart or make you laugh, or try to give you whiplash from breaking your heart and then making you laugh.
But writers are aggressively progressive. Ahead of comics, TV, film. Ahead of it all. And someday, A.I. might just be ready for primetime.
As an aside — I think it will be a boon for jobs that have it rough. The VFX industry is not going to retract and A.I. might help make it more livable. (I hope IATSE does, too)
SAG-AFTRA are in the midst of negotiations now, and they need protections more than the writers. Thanks for sticking with me on this one, I wanted to back into the advice.
How will A.I. get better at writing? By having every work known to man fed into it like a meat-grinder. If your collaboration is for hire, then you do not have any say in this. Media giants will have their own propriety programs. However, if you own your material, then you must give consent.
DO NOT GIVE CONSENT FOR YOUR (CO-)CREATIONS TO BE USED TO TRAIN A.I.
I publish here for myself at Substack and at Image Comics. Every time we hit print we have an indica usually on the inside front cover. Most of it is boiler plate, credits and so forth, but it also denotes who owns the material. There is a move afoot in some smart circles to expressly prohibit the ingestion of our collaborations into these programs.
We do not consent.
And neither should you.
So, that’s my advice. If you are a rights holder, withhold the write to train A.I. in your indicia. You already prohibit the copying and adaptation of your work without your consent. We’re talking about at maybe one or two sentences.
A.I. generated material is just plagiarism that’s been pureed in a blender.
Every creator-owned comic book is not just a merging of pictures, words, designs, letters colors, edits and more…it’s also a small business. Each small business carries with it its own set of challenges and rewards. Be a good small business owner. Withholding training consent on a comic is arguably more important for the artist right now. Maybe it will give your lawyer a hammer in some future dealing. They love when you do that.
X-Men 24 from myself, Joshua Cassara, Frank Martin & Clayton Cowles is out this week. Here’s an unused cover idea from Josh.
Next: More Comics!