27 Comments

  1. Thanks, SBill.

    I have to say, “periodically unveil new work by the man himself!” puts one HELL of a lot of pressure on the guy to make every new cartoon a classic.

  2. As CIDU Bill and I are both in the business, I figured he would know it. Not surprised that others here do too, though.

    I agree that expectations will be ridiculously high. I think it will be good if he doesn’t attempt any fan service. Just does what he wants to do and we can take it or leave it. However, the Internet does allow a particularly toxic type of “fan” a voice.

  3. “However, the Internet does allow a particularly toxic type of “fan” a voice.”

    Not so much if he doesn’t have a comments section; anything else he can just ignore.

  4. Mr. Larson is not going to put himself back under deadline pressure, or anything like it. If he’s feeling creative, you’ll get new material… but he won’t commit to anything. Take what you get, and like it.

  5. James, the pressure comes not from a deadline, but because each new cartoon will be “an event”. Thirty years ago Larson, like every cartoonist, could be allowed an “off day”.

  6. The “Terms of Service” imposed by Larson’s new website are incredibly obnoxious and interminably long, and boil down to “Look, but don’t touch!“, to wit:
    No images or other content … may be … circulated in any form or by any means, without prior written permission….“(*)
    In stark contrast to the linking privileges granted by XKCD or SMBC, linking to and commenting on Far Side images is explicitly prohibited, so that discussions about and references to Far Side cartoons in graphic, but legal form will remain impossible. Therefore, it hardly matters that the website does not offer any kind of dated archive, nor is there any way to search for a specific Far Side comic.
    The hints about the possibility of new material are simply a cheap way to entice eager reader to visit a mercenary, but for all practical purposes absolutely useless website.

    P.S. (*) – Technically, linking to and quoting from those “Terms” is in direct violation of them, so if Bill is concerned about the legal implications, he is welcome to replace the link’s URL with “Expurgated!” and the quoted text with “Unprintable!

  7. As I recall, you can’t make linking illegal just by saying it’s illegal. Otherwise every site would do it. Downloading and displaying content is a different story. You certainly can’t prohibit anyone from commenting on it.

  8. Brian’s faster than I am, but I have supporting links.

    To a great extent I agree with Kilby about the hints of new material.

    Andrews McMeel can put up whatever restrictions it can imagine. That doesn’t make breaking them necessarily illegal. I am not a lawyer, but…

    ‘a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.’ – from https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/

    Certainly CIDU is premised on criticizing or commenting on comics. And Kilby’s comments and criticism of the Terms of Service should also make quoting them and linking to them fair use. (IANAL.)

    ‘”deep linking,” which refers to placing a link on your site that leads to a particular page within another site (i.e., other than its homepage). No court has ever found that deep linking to another website constitutes copyright or trademark infringement. Therefore, you can link to other websites without serious concerns about legal liability for the link itself’

    and

    “While there is some uncertainty on this point, a recent case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that inline linking [i.e. “embedding”] does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link; the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material.”

    Both of the above from http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/linking-copyrighted-materials

  9. I think the move is about being unhappy and business.

    Larson is probably very unhappy that many people are reproducing his work without permission to try to make money or using it to try to support a political position. Having his own site is the way to both establish that it is his stuff and to counter arguments like “well, there wasn’t any online, so I put it there.” To show copyright damages, showing financial loss on your part and financial gain on the part of the alleged infringer is important. So having a site means he can claim people are hurting him financially by drawing away traffic.

    Also, with 40th anniversary coming up, the site will naturally be the place to promote and sell merchandise to cash in on this. Not making any disparaging remarks on this. He made a thing that makes a lot of people happy. He should be allowed to benefit from that. Again, this site, selling stuff, strengthens any claim to copyright and trademark infringement.

    The t&c may be questionable, but I think a lot of it comes from years of seeing his work hijacked. And his people pointing out that this year is likely to be his last big payday from TFS.

  10. “As I recall, you can’t make linking illegal just by saying it’s illegal. ”

    It’s not a violation of copyright law, but it might be a violation of contract. Breaking a contract isn’t generally “illegal”, although it may have legal ramifications. And “click here to accept contract” is generally enforceable.

  11. Either he knows nothing about it and the stupid terms are all on the part of corporate money grubbing lawyers, or else he is one of those pathetically clueless authors like Harlan Ellison or Ray Bradbury, who think they own ideas and titles, and who need to be reminded that there ultimately is no such thing as originality, and we all stand on the shoulders of giants. Or maybe even more succinctly, good artists borrow, great artists steal…

  12. “You certainly can’t prohibit anyone from commenting on it.”

    Not quite true. The contract to do so would be similar to a non-disclosure agreement. This is routinely done for focus-groups that are shown potential new products before they’ve been released publicly, or, for example, the guys who manufacture new Star Wars toys before the movie has come out. They may be shown parts of the movie, or design sketches, and have to sign NDA’s to get access to these materials.

  13. ” To show copyright damages, showing financial loss on your part and financial gain on the part of the alleged infringer is important.”

    Copyright violations have pretty significant statutory damages. The scary “$150,000 per work infringed” is a top end, but the minimum is four figures, which sounds like a lot for copying one cartoon online.

    “his people pointing out that this year is likely to be his last big payday from TFS.”

    He still has several volumes still in print. Go to a bookstore (if you can find one) and you’ll find volumes of Calvin and Hobbes, and the Far Side, and, if you’re lucky, a handful of collections of cartoonists who are still actively syndicated. Mr. Larson likely has a comfortable retirement.

  14. I determined 20-some years ago that I was on safe legal ground here. I have nonetheless made it clear, when asked, that I would steer clear of any strip at the artist or syndicate’s request.

    This has only happened twice: same strip both times. Somebody at the syndicate sent me C&D message, followed by the artist telling me to ignore it.

  15. Kilby, I’m sure there are dozens if Far Sides, perhaps more, that are easily searchable (Google “bummer of a birthmark”)

  16. @ Bill – There are hundreds thousands of Far Side panels that can be searched for (and easily found) in the Internet (see the Kemosabe and Doug threads for two good examples).. The problem is that there is no way to find “clean” or “approved” versions of these images on Larson‘s website, so one is forced to weed through dozens of substandard copies with poor resolution, scanning errors, and other defects.
    Even if it is way too late now, it would have been better to set up a dated, searchable reference archive, such as that what GoComics offers for both Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes (among many others).

  17. I often think of comics and books that do not exist because the artist/author either died, or just quit. C & H comes to mind, as does Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac, and, of course, Sir Terry Pratchett.

    And there’s the drek that just keeps on keepin’ on . . . choose your own example(s).

  18. Larson seems to have ‘fixed’ his site so that you can’t comment on any of his work, even on other sites such as CIDU. Unless, of course, one does a screen shot and then uploads the result into one’s own directory (guilty as charged).

    1) I tried to isolate one comic with a ‘view graphic’ command; nothing happened. I can, however, copy and paste the comic itself elsewhere.
    2) The page itself isn’t dated, so if I were to say that ‘today’s comic – is it a CIDU or a Geezer Alert or . . . ?), by the next day, that comic is gone.
    3) I should say, ‘THOSE’ comics . . . he seems to be running through several a day, perhaps for the reason stated above – to protect copyright?

  19. Yeah, meant to paste that. It was kind of a CIDU for me. Have they already arm-wrestled left-handed?

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