Comic Art, Creativity and the Law
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Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.
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Chapter 14: Concluding remarks

Marc H. Greenberg


As the preceding chapters have demonstrated, the comic art world is complex, and the creative effort required to create new and original works of sequential art is substantial. The law and legal doctrine, ranging from copyright to contract, tax to obscenity, at times creates constraints to the process, and at other times offers critical support of creators and their works. Readers will no doubt sense that in two areas in which the law intersects with the creative process, there is a need for change. The application of the ‘instance and expense’ test to the characters and comic art created by independent contractors whose works were created prior to the enactment of the Copyright Law of 1976 in the US has resulted in the divestiture of ownership rights, which the subsequently implemented law would otherwise allow. This court-created doctrine, adopted on shaky legal grounds, should be reconsidered and abandoned. Similarly, the ill-conceived and logically inconsistent policies in American jurisprudence on the subject of obscenity have had a devastating impact on the freedom of artists and writers to create new and controversial works of art. It is a function of art that it challenges viewers to consider different values and ideas.

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