August 10, 2001ETHICS... SHOULD BE A FOUR LETTER WORD!
This is just too GOOD to pass up!!
Patrick 'Truck' Reinhardt posted a link to a POV column written by Mark Evanier four years ago, in 1997, to the Gremlins Figure List last week. If you haven't seen it yet, click on the link above and read the piece.
If you've been around comics for any length of time, then Mark's name is certainly no stranger to many. Heck, I knew Mark's name way back in the 'fan-zine' days and he was well known back then! So he certainly has the credentials and his opinion brings a certain amount of weight to the bargaining table. Even though this column was written four years ago, it could have been written yesterday, and for me personally, it brings with it an ethical dilemma that's swirling around in my head!!
First off, let me state my initial reaction once I clicked on Truck's email. I have to say that I was somewhat impressed by the way the various shop owners ALL went out of their way in protecting the source of this Garage Kit. Even when they were faced with very possible legal action against their store (and I'm assuming, their livelihood!!) Now you have to be impressed with their integrity... well, that's probably a bad choice of words! ...with their loyalty to the sculptor/producer of said kit.
That's 'Street Loyalty'!! The shop owners knew they were wrong in having the kit in their stores available for purchase, so why pull anyone else down with them?! My type of boys!!
I doubt, very, very, much if that same loyalty could be found today. In the reality of 2001', I doubt Mark would have had to waste eight full days before tracking down the needed information! Heck, two hours tops!! The Internet GK scene is a lot different today than it was four years ago and sites like mine or Gremlins could easily give you the producer's name, and finding a link to their own website would be a snap! That or just discover one of the numerous message forums and pop the question up there and just wait for all the replies to come pouring in!! Piece of cake!!
(That must send shivers up many a GK producer's back, now that I think about it!) :)
But, again, that was my initial response to Mark's column. The dilemma starts once you digest the point Mark is addressing... and that is, that our entire hobby isn't founded on moral and ethical highgrounds, is it? Of course we can sit here and sugar coat it all day long... that we produce certain kits only because we love the subject matter and the commercial Model Companies ain't filling our needs. ...we're so small that obtaining proper licences are too expensive, unattainable, don't protect your investment, etc., etc., etc.
But after we lick all the sugar away, what we're left with is... 1) a love of modeling, 2) a love of certain subject matters, and 3) a way of earning some extra money.
For those of us on the Buyer's side of the fence, one and two apply as well, with three probably being... what?
Granted the Groo pictured in Mark's column really isn't that good, but all I have to do is turn my head and look at all my finished kits up there on the shelves! Hell, go down the hall and look at all the boxes I have up there in the closet! A hefty 98% of the resin pieces are unlicensed kits of someone's characters. Might not be any Groo's up there, but that wasn't Mark's point, was it??!
For the sake of my eternal soul, I could easily quantify my kits. I could sprout such remarks as, "Kits of characters owned by large corporate bigwigs, who does it hurt?" Batman's, The Thing, Universal Monsters, Comic Superheroes... like Warner Brothers, Marvel and Universal are going to be hurt by me buying a $100.00 kit?! But it doesn't wash, does it? Whether it be WB or Dark Horse Comics (which put out the Groo books) or Sergio's back freaking pocket, we're selling and buying kits that are unlicensed.
That small word... licensed!! It trips us up so often that I'm surprised we can walk anymore. It ultimately knocks the wind out of the infamous Recast debates, having one doesn't protect a producer worth a damn IN the infamous Recast debates, it's what causes everyone to walk on eggs and tread lightly to avoid the dreaded 'Cease & Desist' orders, and we're so fucking small that affording one of the damn things makes producing a kit in the long run, a lost fucking cause, and leaves one usually deep in debt and unable to sell the damn kit we GOT a legal license for in the first place!
So the question I have to ask is... are we 'crooks'?
(shake your head, at this point, in the up-and-down position)
How does that make you feel? I mean, can you live with yourself knowing this? Can you sleep at night?
If you're still shaking your head up-and-down, then maybe this answers last weeks Sprue!?!! If we have no ethical qualms about ripping off copyrighted material, then ripping each other off isn't that big a leap.
Weird shit, this ethics thing, ain't it?!! Gives me a headache, it does!!
Til next week...