Udon, Capcom, and Further Bullshit

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ReillyBrown's avatar
"There is no payment to artists for artwork used in the Capcom Fighting Tribute book. All selected artwork becomes the property of Capcom."

So it says in the Udon Capcom Tribute Book rules for entry--

Shockingly similar situation to the journal entry I posted about recently about people contacting me about using my work for free isn't it?
  BullshitSometimes people try to pull some shit that is so shady it hurts my brain.
I was recently contacted by an online retailer who wanted to "promote" my artwork by putting it on their products that they sell, such as tee-shirts, prints, and who knows what else.  People, by no stretch of the imagination is this promotion, this is straight up asking to use my work for free as if they're providing some sort of service to me.  This is exactly the sort of thing that I would normally sell my artwork for, which is how I make my income. 
To any young artists out there, please don't ever fall for some crap like this.  From looking at his website, it looks like no one has fallen for it yet, but I've seen other, similar, predatory business models that have successfully exploited artists.  When you make artwork you put in time and labor, and you should never give that away for free, especially not to people who are trying to make money for themselves, but aren't willing to sha

If this were a "contest" that was only open to students, or amateur artists, this would be fine.  Those are people still trying to get their feet off the ground, and it's a rare chance to get their work into the world.  However, once you allow professionals into the mix, you're limiting the amateurs chances of getting the opportunity, and you're treating professionals as if they're not professionals.

I truly believe that no professional should take a job where the payment is the "privileged" of doing the work.  
Please refer to one of my favorite sites on the entire vast internet-- shouldiworkforfree.com/
If Udon is your mom, obviously that changes things, but otherwise...

I'm a professional, I get treated like a professional, paid like a professional or I don't do the job.
All this really is is an attempt to get free content (that they will own forever) for a high-priced product.
I know what you're thinking-- "but I love Capcom games!  Even though I'm a professional working on another property, I want to draw a Capcom character too!"
Well shit, bro, I love Capcom too, and I'll tell you, nothing's stopping me from drawing those characters all damn day if I wanted to.  But I'm not going to give those drawings-- that time and labor-- to a company who plans on making money off of them FOR FREE.  Until I give them that art, I still own that art and can do whatever I wish with it, or at least whatever I'm able to with characters that I don't own the trademark for, such as put it on my website, which the rules for this "contest" bans.

You may also be thinking "but what about Spectrum?  That's a highly respected publication each year, and they don't pay their artists for content, in fact you actually have to pay an entrance fee!" The difference, my friend, is that Spectrum is an art contest where they actually give out awards for excellence, they accept previously published work, they don't expect exclusive publication rights, and most importantly of all, they don't claim ownership over those entries.  Oh, and also, the books don't cost $80.
Now, if Udon gave out awards for "who can draw the best M. Bison" or whatever, well shit, that changes everything.  It might be worth something to walk away after winning the 2015 M. Bison award.  
Until then, unless Udon is your mom, have more respect for your profession. 
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EzJedi's avatar
Whilst I completely respect your right to refuse to work on anything I think your own circumstances are tinting your vision when it comes to this. If you have plenty of clients and regular professional work that's great. But for someone in my position, a fledgling artist who has only dabbled in the professional art world and has nearly no recognition, this is an invaluable opportunity for a chance to have my work showcased alongside the artists who have inspired and in some cases personally encouraged and influenced my progression.

Not everything is due financial compensation. Let's say for example a gallery puts on a show featuring all these awesome Udon artists, guys like VostalgictheCHAMBAedwinhuangHeavyMetalHanzoOmar-Dogan , etc (apologies to any of the other Udon guys I didn't list-this is just a hypothetical example folks) and are charging a fee on the door. Then as a newcomer to the art world you receive an invitation to show your work there too, but with no financial compensation. You'd have to be a blathering idiot not to embrace an opportunity like that, where your work is granted parity with artists whose reputation precedes them. No, you won't get paid. But as a result, in the long game (something today's 'now now now' society struggles to comprehend) that exposure in an environment like that could be invaluable in garnering future work and changing people's perception and awareness of who you are as an artist. So there is a benefit, albeit not in cold hard cash!

I am the customer, I DO buy these kind of books and I do aspire to be featured in such high quality publications, whether this one or the next, or sometime down the road. That doesn't make me ignorant to the fact that artists should be properly compensated. You'll never see me offering 'point commissions' (shudders) and as someone who would bang the drum for people to understand the work and time that goes into good artwork and pay appropriately, it's perhaps ironic to you to hear me supporting a project like this.

As I said at the beginning, I do understand where you're coming from. But in this hyper competitive connected world we now live in there's more aspiring artists than ever. If being featured in something like this for pride and promotion alone is foolish, then consider me a fool. But I'm a patient fool who recognises the long term benefits to my fledgling career.

On a total side note, your work is fantastic. ;)
ReillyBrown's avatar
Thanks for the feedback EzJedi.  I see where you're coming from, however I encourage you to look at a it a bit deeper.  You're taking Udon's marketing for their call for entries at face value, which is to say you're accepting all of the positives of it, without considering any of the negatives. 
Yes, it can be a good opportunity for an aspiring artist to have their work published next to well-established professionals.  There are plenty of publications that do something like this which I have no issue with.  The professionals are the headliners who people pay to see, and the rest of the people fill out the pages to give the product more weight and a higher price point.  The pros get money, and the noobs get exposure.  Everybody wins. 
Except that in this case the pros AREN'T getting paid.  If you ARE a working professional, and you're willing to do work for a large publisher for free, you're not respecting yourself.  You're just not.  I mean, what do you have to gain? 
Because the publisher's getting paid, right?  Heh, at $80 a book, they better be.  And the editor's getting paid, and the printer's getting paid.  Pretty much everyone but the artists.  And it's an art book.
Plus, the more professionals who do go out for it only lowers the chances of the up-and-comers getting the exposure that they're looking for, so really, this policy hurts both groups.  

The other issue is that this propagates a larger problem in the industry as a whole, which is that of artists being expected to sign away the rights to their work without question, for very low prices-- and in fact, as in this case, for NO price. 
Don't misunderstand, if your work is accepted, Udon (and by extension Capcom) is taking your artwork to use in WHATEVER THEY WANT FOREVER, and they never have to pay you for it.  If they wanted to use your artwork just in the one book, they could easily have written the terms of the contract to make that so, but they didn't.  They specifically say that the right to use the artwork is only and forever Capcom's. 

So maybe you trust Udon and Capcom and the people running those companies, and you think they're probably not going to use your work for more than just the book.  That's fine, I'm sure the people in charge of those places are all fine people with good intentions, and they really are just interested in putting out this one book.  But what happens in 20 years when both companies are run by different people, and both companies are bought by other larger companies?  Will the people in charge at that point even know how they came across this artwork, or would they just see it among a huge catalog of artwork that the company owns, and can do whatever they want with?  And do whatever they want with it for free, without paying the original artist anything, or hiring a new artist to make a new piece. 
Like I said, they could have limited the use of that artwork to the single publication, but they didn't.  You've got to ask yourself WHY they didn't. 
I mean, they wouldn't use any of those 300 pages of artwork again, right?  Yeah, right. 

As artists, we need to question these practices, because the practices hurt our profession.  At the very least they don't HELP our profession. 
Keep in mind, you don't see me going on rants on the internet very often.  I'm not some crackpot blogger like there are plenty of out there.  I'm simply pointing out that this is what a bad deal looks like. 
This is exactly what it looks like when a big company takes advantage of the little guy.
And sure, for your first couple of gigs in your career, you may have to eat shit.  You're trying to make a name for yourself, and the exposure alone makes it worth it to eat a little shit.  But once you're a professional and you no longer have to eat shit, you have to stop eating that shit.  You HAVE to.  Once it becomes possible for companies to get professional level talent for shit-money, shit's going to be the only thing anyone serves. 
We're too close to that as it is, and with projects like this, we may already be there. 

So, like I said in my original post, have more respect for your profession.
EzJedi's avatar
I have read the contractual terms. I have evaluated the negatives. I am a functioning adult and I understand that Udon will own that one piece of art. Forever. I get that, which means reiterating it in CAPS as if I'm a foreign speaker to whom raising your voice will suddenly trigger a eureka moment is unnecessary. It's got absolutely nothing to do with trusting this or that company, I simply don't have as bigger issue with this type of voluntary submission and the terms of the contract laid out in this instance as you do. If an artist had work featured and it was used again in the future it will still be credited to them, simply further cementing their reputation as an artist whose work is of professional and publishable standard. That's not naivety, it's an informed acceptance of the nature of the contract.

I completely understand all the nuances of the problem you're aiming to address, but I think that it's less an industry wide issue. Rather, it's a growing problem in places like DA (and many others), where an ever increasing amount of internet users with creative ambitions but no industry understanding are trying to get AAA quality art for grade C prices, or less. Also due to the sense of urgency and impatience found particularly in the younger generation of aspiring artists, many are the cause of their own problems, charging a few bucks for character commissions that take them all day in practice. This is the true source of the problem in my opinion. The lack of patience to work one's way to a financially beneficial position, rather than wanting success overnight. That and the greater sense of entitlement that the internet as a whole has fostered, but that's an entire sociology topic in itself!

I realise on reflection that perhaps your post was actually aimed to be of more benefit to those who don't take their art career prospects seriously and who don't read contracts, leaving themselves open to being taken advantage of. But to level the assumption that I have no respect for my profession because after due consideration I see promotional benefit in submitting to an unpaid Tribute book is a little patronising and holier-than-thou. I get that you're trying to help your fellow artists and the industry as a whole and I respect you for that. Heck I even agree wholeheartedly with your concerns and sentiments about the devaluation of art for commercial applications. As I alluded to before, maybe if I were in different position with plenty of clients and commissions stacked up I'd be grabbing my torch and pitchfork right there alongside you! But my personal assessment of my career progression thus far leaves me feeling that the negatives here are outweighed by the potential positives.

On a side note, it could all be a moot point anyway, as I may not even get time to complete a submission at this rate! Regardless, I appreciate you taking the time to give me such a detailed reply and that it came from a sense of wanting to help inform others.:thumbsup:
ReillyBrown's avatar
I apologize if my response seemed condescending, I didn't mean it that way, I simply used all caps in certain areas where I felt emphasis was necessarily, as the user interface here lacks easy access to bold or italics.  Also, for anyone who's just browsing through these comments, I wanted certain phrases to visually draw attention to themselves. 
Also, I don't believe I was being holier-than-thou-- at least not any more than anyone who gives advice. 
Suffice it to say, I think that regardless of their intentions for this project, Udon has adopted a predatory business model for this, and it behooves us as freelancers not to encourage that.
If you are in a place in your career where you think that the exposure would benefit you-- either by increasing your visibility to your audience or potential clients, or even just as resume-filler-- I'd encourage you to look for other places to submit your artwork that do more to benefit the artistic industry. 

For instance, Spectrum is obviously the big one.  They do similar thick compilations of artwork of a variety of artists from all points of their careers from students to professionals.  They have awards to celebrate artistic achievement, and they keep the price of their book as low as they can to get it to as wide an audience as possible. 
And they do all this without demanding the artist gives up their copyright.
There are other places to submit your work to as well.

Part of my larger point is that it's not just about what each individual artist is giving up, but it's about what they're losing in opportunity cost-- which is to say what they could be getting that they're not getting-- and about what the companies are getting out of them.  It may not be a lot for a single artist to give up the copyright for a single piece of artwork for free, but for a company who is suddenly getting hundreds of pieces of artwork as well as their perpetual copyright, without paying anything for it, they're getting quite a haul.  I mean, it's a whole project with practically no overhead, and you know it's a business model they are happy with because they do several projects like this.  How long before other companies pick up on it and start doing the same? 
It's not just paranoia to worry about that either, because I've seen a number of contracts from a number of companies and they frequently have questionable if not downright exploitative language in them.  For instance, not paying artists royalties is all too common, as is companies taking the entirety of the copyright for the work perpetually.  I've even seen contracts that say they can credit whomever they want for the artists work. 
At least those places pay something up front, though.
I think that paying artists nothing, and getting the copyright for the artwork forever, is the absolute bottom of the barrel.  I mean, what else can they even take? 

So, obviously your decisions are up to you, and you should do as you feel best serves yourself and your career.  Maybe you looked it over and think that despite everything, it's still a good opportunity for you.  I would disagree, because I think that anything this project can offer you, there are others that can offer the same and more, without taking as much away from you. 
I've said as much as I can on the matter, I think, and if you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer them, but I think my general opinion on this has been made abundantly clear, and I think it's well considered and well reasoned.
Do what's best for you, and I wish you all the success in the world.   
EzJedi's avatar
No worries, I just wanted to make it clear that I'm not a helpless vulnerable type who's easily exploited. Whilst I don't have the amount of professional experience that you clearly have, my limited experiences so far have bern pretty lucky I guess.

I'm smart enough to value and consider free advice when someone experienced or intelligent offers it, so I'll take on board your points check out Spectrum and any other similar avenues that could be a fairer means of self promotion. The only reason the Udon submission call appealed to me is that the style of art represented is up my alley, so to speak. As I think I stated before, I've bought a couple of these tribute/anniversary books and thoroughly enjoy the content and production quality so the fact that I'm a consumer for this kind of thing obviously influences my interest. I would be proud to have my work featured in the same kind of publication I'd happily put on my shelf!

But if there were other avenues with similar standing and acceptance of the style of art I enjoy and produce I would be foolish not to consider them. I still stand by my argument, but I'm also grateful for your detailed and considered responses. Good luck to you too!:thumbsup:
Anduinel's avatar
I can't say I'd fault an artist for passing up on a gig that, at best, gets them compensated in barter with yet more work and upfront costs on the artist's end if they want to see an actual payday from it.  Just because some folks are willing to go for it for love of the characters or the chance of exposure or whathave doesn't alter the underlying message that the work isn't worth paying for.
Vostalgic's avatar
Hi Reilly,

My name is Long Vo, I'm an Udon artist who's worked with Udon since the beginning. While I in no official capacity speak for Udon or Capcom, I can at least tell you from my perspective as a freelance artist what I think about the matter.  I'd like to reassure you that since the beginning Udon has prided itself on taking care of artists over the bottom line. I've never been mistreated at Udon, in fact, if anything, Udon has always taken care of me as an artist whenever things got rough. Ask any artist who's worked with Udon and I'll guarantee they'll say the same thing.   

Having said that, I would like to express my disappointment in your statements about the upcoming Tribute book. You characterize the book as "not paying artists for free content" which I feel is a little unfair. 

The statement "There is no payment to artists for artwork used in the Capcom Fighting Tribute book. All selected artwork becomes the property of Capcom" is included as legalise to clarify that at no point will any cash change hands and will avoid any artist trying to sue Capcom for using said work in that book down the line. This is pretty standard legal terms that ensures no legal action, but you interpret it as "not getting paid."

I'd like to reiterate what artists are getting out of this:

1) You get a free copy of the book, valued at a retail price of $80. Now you may say that the book doesn't cost $80 to produce(there are margins for all books), but if you paid retail for it, is it still not an $80 value?
2) No one is forcing you to bring down your page rate. Let's say you spent 4 hours on it. That makes your earnings $20/hr. Spend 8 hours on it. That's $10/hr. Sure, you don't get a check from anywhere, but that doesn't mean there is no monetary value to the book.
3) You are legally granted a license to sell 200 prints of this work. Let's say you sell 20 prints at $10 a piece. That's $200. Sell the rest of the 180 prints and you make a total of $2000. Let's say it cost you$2 per print to make them, you're still up $1600.  And you're doing it legally. 

I think that one of the things that we as artists tend to take for granted is that we think we can just draw any character we like and make money off of the prints. Legally, artists have a responsibility to obtain the legal rights to sell prints off of characters you don't own. If Capcom were Disney, they would chase down every artist at a convention and not allow them to sell anything. But Capcom is very dedicated to its fanbase and therefore, doesn't really police this all that much. 

Tons of artists over the years have benefited from this. Tons of artists gain popularity and free publicity over their interpretation of Capcom's licenses. Did they ever once pay a cent to Capcom for doing so? I think not. Just because you bought one of Capcom's games over the years does not grant you free license to do what you want with their characters. 

So, for this tribute book, Udon has legally obtained the license from Capcom for you. That costs money doesn't it? 

As a working professional, most of us don't care to get paid for this type of work. We grow up loving these franchises and characters, that it's simply a joy to illustrate what we grew up with and what has even influenced us as artists.  So the choice for us is whether or not we have the time to do a piece or not. Again, no one is forcing you to submit a piece. That's your choice and god given right as a human being. I don't see how it devalues professionals when professionals make their own decisions every day whether or not it's worth their time. If you have a another job that pays much more, then I'm sure you'll spend your time doing that instead correct? No harm no foul here.

As for fans and pros involved at the same time, if you look at the history of work from Udon's tribute books, I'd say a good 60% of the work is by fan artists and not seasoned pros. Again, it's really up to you to decide whether or not you want to submit or if its worth your time even. But, as a fanartist going up against a pro, you still have a great chance of getting into the book and then you'd be listed among professionals, which could even give you a boost in cred. Sure, these aren't "tangible cash" rewards, but they aren't nothing either. 

In closing, I'd like to say that I respect you as a fellow artist and I also respect your work Reilly, but I feel like you're giving both Udon and Capcom a bum rap here. I hope that you'll be a little more open minded about this book going forward.

Take care and best wishes,

-Long Vo 

ReillyBrown's avatar
Hi Long, I just want to say that I enjoy the work of a lot of you artists who work for Udon, you guys do some good stuff and I am friends with a lot of guys who have done work there.  I think Udon puts out some quality products, and has some excellent production values, and certainly I've always had a love of Capcom's games. 
And actually, heh, when I first got an internet connection back in high school, I think you may have been one of the first comic artists who's work I followed-- I think you had a comic about a cyborg cowboy or something back then, right?  So anyway, I respect your work and it's a bummer that when we first "meet," so to speak, it's on opposite sides of this issue.  However it's an issue that I feel strongly about. 

I didn't necessarily mean to pick on Udon specifically when I posted this, I was just using this book as an example.  I had recently made a post about a company who contacted me about my work with the classic "for exposure" line, and it was just a reminder to anyone who reads my blog to not fall for situations like that.  Shortly after that, I saw the rules for the Capcom Tribute book, where on a technical level the situation was very similar, and made this post just to remind people that you can even find these kinds of lopsided deals at well known and otherwise respectable companies as well.  Young artists need to learn to be on the lookout for things like this, and know what they're getting themselves into.

That's an interesting take you have on the situation, Long.  Some of the things you said I agree with, others I find more questionable, but it all comes down to this-- you talk a lot about how the "license" to legally make prints of Capcom characters is worth something to the artists, and maybe it is, potentially, to some people.  But isn't the artists work worth anything to Udon?  Because at the end of the day, an $80 book is an expensive item, and SOMEONE's going to be making a good deal of money from it, but that person won't be ANY of the artists who contributed work.   
(And you can do some quick speculative math in your head... yeah, that adds up pretty quick.)

And I am with you that there IS some value to amateur artists in building up their resume by being included in something like this...  The publicity/exposure angle can be worthwhile for people who haven't had a chance to be published yet.  But I don't think that the amateurs and the published professional artists should all be lumped together like it appears they are here.  It undervalues the pros as equal to the rookies, and gives those rookies an unfair level of competition to work against.  In a response above, DA user The-Kid 36 said that was the exact reason he wasn't going to submit his work.

And I do think that there are ways that Udon could organize this so that it IS advantageous for all participants.  In my original post, I mentioned Spectrum as an example of a seemingly similar publication that is good for artists rather than exploitative of them.  That's obviously a different thing than this, but there are ways that Udon could make this into a more legitimate opportunity for artists. 
For instance, I was only half joking when I mentioned an "M. Bison Award" earlier.  Perhaps make it a jurried award of some kind, maybe with a cash prize for the winner.  Or even just a trophy!  Make it a real contest. 
Or, maybe just pay a few professional artists for their contributions, and then open up the rest for unpublished amateurs and fan artists.  That's probably the closest to what it is now, but at least the pros will be valued for their work.
Or even if you want to just leave it as is, rather than the prints, allow the artists who contribute work to buy 200 copies of the actual book at cost and sell THAT at conventions.  That's potentially far more money than the prints will bring in.  And hell, let em do the prints too.  I mean, why not?  No hair off Udon's back.
Or hell, if it really is just about paying tribute to the characters that people are fans of, how about Udon throws their work in for free as well?  Charge $15 a copy to cover printing costs (or $30 through a retailer or whatever), only ask the artists for a one-time print license for their images (rather than the entire copyright... I mean, Udon's only planning on using the image the one time... right?), and call it all even?  It'll get in more hands, and get more exposure for the artists involved, and more Capcom fans will be able to appreciate it.

Those are just a couple of suggestions off the top of my head, and I'm sure that there are tons of other ways to make this better for the artists.  Ways for Udon to show the artists that they're appreciated.
Because that's the issue here-- artists being undervalued by companies who will use their work to make large amounts of money. 
When this becomes the trend (and it IS becoming the trend, more and more) it has real consequences for anyone in the field.  I'm not a "fan artist" like you mentioned, but a professional comic artist who has done work for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.  As a freelancer you KNOW how hard it can be to make a living as an artist, and in an industry where artists can go YEARS without getting a raise from the companies that they work for, how is an artist supposed to ask their editor for more money when that editor can just turn and say "why should we pay you more?  Udon just put out a book full of artists and didn't pay anything for any of it!" 

If someone's going to make money off the book sales, why shouldn't it be the people who's work make up that book?  Especially if there's quality, professional artists working on it who rely on money from their art to pay their bills (and thus be able to continue producing high-quality art)?  And if those artists are the reason people are buying the book to begin with?  Udon's not the only company that does these kinds of practices, but it's disappointing nonetheless.  It's just a bad precedent that hurts the industry.  It really is. 
Vostalgic's avatar
Hey Reilly, 

I'm sorry if you got the impression I labeled you a fanartist, I re-read my earlier post and I don't see where I mentioned that. In any case, I understand you're a professional and just wanted to clear that up. 

I understand looking out for artists, most artists don't understand their value and large companies tend to distract them with other tangible benefits to keep the cost of production low while the bigwigs make all the money. I mentor artists here and there and one of the first thing I tell them is "know what your time is worth." 

While I agree with your overall sentiment, I just wanted you to understand that it's not Udon's intent to "take advantage" of artists here. You mentioned some of your friends were Udon. If so, then I gather you would also know that every single one of them has been treated fairly by Udon. Udon was built from a group of up and coming artists and we've all had the same struggle with our work and built it into something more.

All of your suggestions are interesting for sure, though, to be fair, I don't think you fully understand all of the inner workings of making projects like this come together. I think the biggest one that you don't seem to understand is "Legal Licensing."

Anyone who sells a print of an established character is doing so Illegally. In order to get the book in circulation, Udon had to get the rights to every single one of those games from Capcom which costs money. On top of that, Udon also negotiated so that the artist could get the license to legally sell prints based on that work. 

Fanartists(and by fanartist I mean anyone drawing a character not in an official capacity) tend to forget that they make money and get publicity from licenses they don't own all the time. For some reason, they feel entitled that just because they created a work of art of someone else's character, that it belongs to them. I feel that, as a working professional, that we need to let artists know that it is not ok to exploit licenses we don't own. If you draw it for the love of it, go ahead, but then don't go around mass producing and selling it and not through the proper channels.

There are alot of other costs associated with getting the book out, the time it takes to gather and review submissions, editorial, reaching out to creators, writing copy, graphic design, marketing fees, production, distribution channels, etc, etc, etc... It's not easy. 

While I am not privy to exact numbers, I do know offhand that Udon's tribute books have really high margins and tend to have less returns as compared to official works.  When a book is printed, Udon is eating the cost of being in the hole for a niche book that is risky. So of course some of that risk needs to be alleviated. But Udon wants to do a book like this because honestly, wouldn't it be cool to celebrate some of our favorite franchises in an official capacity? 

I'm not going to bullshit you here, of course any project needs to be profitable otherwise, why do it right? But I think you unfairly assume that Udon is selling a Legend of Zelda level book here with millions in circulation, when it's really not. Not even close.   

In the end, the artists are being compensated for their work. You ARE getting paid. Just not with a check. There is actual monetary value from an actual book and a license to legally sell prints. And it really is up to them if they want to submit or not. I just don't think that this tribute book should be characterized as one of those shady contests where you submit your work into a black hole that owns all of your rights upon submission. It's this simple, if you don't get in the book, you still own your work. In all honesty, the only real restriction is showing off your work before the book comes out, because who wants everything in the book spoiled before it even comes out right? Udon isn't shady, nor would anyone there ever be. I just wanted to make sure that the distinction was understood here.

I do like your suggestion of selling X amount of books to the artist to resell. As of now, it's too late for this book, but I will definitely suggest this idea and some of your other suggestions to the editors at Udon for future consideration. Like you said, the more we can do for the artists, the better. 

Thanks for reading!


ReillyBrown's avatar
I'm certain that Udon and everyone who works for them mean well.  I believe their enthusiasm for the properties they're working with is genuine, and I'm with you that it can be cool to see talented creators working on popular franchises that they're not normally associated with.  From both a creator's standpoint and a fan's standpoint, that can be fun! 
I can also appreciate the frustration that Udon and companies like them must feel to see so much fan art produced, and then see certain artists making money off of that fanart, of characters that Udon has worked hard to get the rights to produce and sell products of through the proper and official channels.  Making money from fan-made prints and products of that nature are probably something that is over-abused by a lot of artists (and just for the record, I don't think I've ever sold a print of a character that wasn't entirely owned by me, or owned by a company that I have a healthy working relationship with).  It actually makes a lot of sense that Udon would try to make use of that enthusiasm in some way that could benefit both themselves and their fan artists. 

But there's a way to do that right and a way to do it wrong.  And even with the best of intentions, you know, you want to do it right.
Here's where, for me, this current Udon thing goes off the tracks a bit--
First of all, this is a very high-priced, high-quality product.  I know how much it costs to print a book, but I don't know how much the Capcom license costs, although I assume that given how close Udon and Capcom work on so many projects, it's probably reasonable, if not favorable.  And I'm certain it's not selling Zelda-book levels, but it probably does okay.  Even if it only sells a few thousand copies, there's a decent chunk of change there.  Perhaps not enough to pay every single artist their regular full-color, full-page illustration rate, but something's always better than nothing.  Hell, maybe just pay a select few headliners, and then take unpaid fanart submissions from unpublished amateurs as a first chance of being published.  Or even as a contest, like I've mentioned before.  I mean, it kind of is already, but just make it official.  When I was younger I'd enter contests that were for unpublished amateurs only, and there was value in that for that point in my career. 

The other problem here is asking the artists to give up the copyright to their image.  I know that the artist doesn't own the rights to reproduce the characters, but they DO own the rights to their particular image itself. At least until they give them up.  Why does Udon (or Capcom, or however that breaks down) need the full copyright of each artist's image?  They're just printing it the one time in the one book, right?  Maybe Udon potentially wants to show it off for purposes of promoting the book as well?  So why not ONLY ask for those rights?  That way if an image is a particular hit, and Udon or Capcom want to keep using that image for other things OTHER than the tribute book (and that's the worry of giving away your entire copyright-- having someone exploit it for things that you didn't intend for them to), they'd have to go back to the artist and secure the rights again, and the artist will have a chance to get paid their appropriate rate. 
Or, you know, not.  Maybe the artist really only wanted their image in the book, and nowhere else.  Who knows?

If the artist gives up the whole copyright from the get-go, Udon or Capcom could go ahead and use that image for whatever they want-- on posters, tee-shirts, wherever-- and never pay that artist for any of it.  And maybe that sounds a bit paranoid, but if they ever were to make a tee-shirt it would probably have an image on it, and if they were to just randomly pull an image from the library of artwork that they own the rights to, shouldn't that image be from an artist who was at least paid something? 
I mean, we're here on DA where they somehow manage to make tee-shirts, prints, and all kinds of merch with art from all sorts of artists, DA gets a cut, the artist gets a cut and DA doesn't even need to take the copyright.  I'm not saying that's the type of thing that Udon or Capcom even want to do, but I'm just saying there are ways for everyone to get just what they need out of the deal, without taking a bunch of other stuff that they don't need. 

So anyway, I do think that Udon's intentions are mostly genuine, but even you said that it's a business thing, and the product has to be profitable.  I just think it should be profitable for everyone involved, particularly the artists who are the book's selling points.  Their efforts ARE worth something and should be treated as such. 
I'm glad to hear that you'll talk to your contacts at Udon, and hopefully they take these concerns seriously (although I do know all too well how these companies can be sometimes), and maybe some of my suggestions are interesting to them as they are to you.  Who knows?  You're an artist too, so you understand the larger issues here as well as anyone.  It would be excellent to have one more company that's actively working to do right by the artists that it publishes. 
Vostalgic's avatar
Thanks for clarifying Reilly, much appreciated.

In all honesty, asking for the rights is only to cover both Udon and Capcom on the legal side. They just don't want anyone down the line coming and declaring frivoulous lawsuits.  

As far as Udon is concerned, the only restriction is to not show the work until the book is published. Outside of that, Udon doesn't really care what you do with your piece. 

As I mentioned before, I also know people at Capcom, and their general stance(while never written anywhere specifically) is not to pursue legal action against anyone unless that person is grossly using the license to mass produce merchandise on a medium to large scale.

So, barring the technicality of the legalise, for all intents and purposes, if you went ahead like your example and ever did a small print run of tshirts of it to sell you probably could. Chances are no one will chase you down for making a few hundred bucks on the side. If your shirt went into Hot Topic in mass quantities that's another story entirely. 

I'd like to reiterate that Udon doesn't own your work, Capcom does. It's part of their licensing deal. It does not prevent them from making merchandise of your work, true, but they feel that granting you license to sell prints is a fair trade for that. That's up to the individual artist to decide whether or not they think that is fair. As you said before, at one point in your career it would have been, and now apparently not so much. In all honesty, the likelihood of this happening is slim though admittedly, not impossible.

I understand that legalise is open to interpretation, hence yours and others strong reaction to it, but realistically, you really have nothing to be concerned about. 

I do respect your opinions and views, I just wanted to explain to you Udon's intentions(as I know a lot of the passionate people behind the scenes who put a lot of work into this project). I do feel that it is defamatory especially a couple of the articles I've seen that's quoted you, because it gives the wrong idea about Udon, which I of course am protective of. I do understand there should be a venue for this discussion, I just wished that it didn't have to be at the cost of painting Udon out to be something that it's not.

I hope you understand, and I will definitely relay your feedback to Udon's editors for future projects. 



ReillyBrown's avatar
Well, just to be clear, I only meant that at an earlier point in my career it would have been worth it for me to see my work published without any compensation-- I would never and have never given away any of my copyrights without compensation.  I think it's a bad idea for artists to sign away their rights so easily.  I believe that because of all the many comic book artists I've seen grow old in poverty because they've made that mistake, while other people have gotten wealthy on those artists work.  I'm not saying that was ever anyone's intended outcome, but I do know that it happens.

Also, there are definitely ways to word the "legalese" of a contract so that each party is protected from frivolous lawsuits from the other side, as well as protecting each party from unfair exploitation from the other side.  That's part of the point of a contract.  The way this contract is worded, however, so that the artists grant Capcom the copyrights to their images, protects Udon and Capcom from those lawsuits (whatever they may be), but it opens the artists up to exploitation of their artwork far beyond simple reproduction of the image in the Tribute book that the artist is submitting to. 
I simply think that goes above and beyond what is necessary to any of this project's currently stated goals. 
I mean, really, Udon can limit their own use of the artwork to what they say the intended purpose of that artwork is just as easily as they limit the amount of prints they're willing to legally allow the artist to make.  I honestly don't understand why they don't. 

And I saw this blog post mentioned on the Beat, but other than that I don't know where I've been quoted, and honestly don't think any of it's defamatory.  I did use this as an example of a bad contract, but that's because I believe that it is one, and have given rather clear, honest reasons why. 
I mean, I certainly don't think it's an ideal contract. 
Other people can make up their minds as to whether or not they agree with me, but at the very least I don't think I've been inaccurate with anything I've said.  I think artists need to be made aware of these issues, so that when it comes time to negotiate a contract, they know what to look out for, and what to stand up for themselves for.  I think companies should be made aware of these issues too, so that next time they want to put a project together they say "ah, perhaps it would be best if we paid everyone who does work for us.  And maybe not ask for more rights than we're actually planning on using." 
I feel like those are just fundamentals of any working arrangement.  Or at least they should be. 
That's what I think anyway.

So I don't know, we can argue about whether this is a fair deal or not until we're blue in the face, but I think I've said everything I mean to say.  I wish you the best in your future projects, Long, and I actually hope that Udon's current Tribute book does well for them.  I really do.  However I also hope that in the future, they don't just pay tribute to Capcom, but give a little more back to the artists working with them to make the project great as well.

Vostalgic's avatar
Headlines read and imply "Submit and give up rights with no compensation", which I feel is disingenuous. It may have not been your intention, but that was the effect. 

I guess I just don't understand why an $80 retail book plus legal license to produce prints isn't considered "compensation" in your eyes.  Implying that a legal license has no value tears away at our rights as individual creators and the rights to our own potential IPs. 

I hope you can see the difference here. 

If not, it's ok. We are all entitled to our opinions, and I feel I've said my peace as well. I wish you best as well Reilly and hope to see more of your work in the future. Have a wonderful holiday and I wish you a happy new years as well. :)

Kindest regards,


wildpegasus13's avatar
Totally agree with you, Reilly. And yet I'm still thinking of submitting something anyway. LOL! I guess I have no scruples.
ReillyBrown's avatar
Heh, that's an interesting stance to take.  If I may ask, why are you considering submitting something?  Like, what do you see as the potential advantage of submitting? 
wildpegasus13's avatar
To prove to myself that I am good enough. To actually try to do something with my art. Just to see if I can and be able to point at a piece in a book and say I did that. Yes, not getting paid sucks, but I'm not getting paid for my art NOW so nothing changes. But I do agree with you that as a pro or even an amateur artist, having the only payoff be that your art appears in an expensive art book is not how a big company like Capcom and UDON should going about this.
ReillyBrown's avatar
So you just see it as something to put on your resume then? 
wildpegasus13's avatar
Maybe, but also just something to say "I drew that!" So if nothing else ever happens with my art, I can have that and still feel like I did something. I realize I can do the same thing on here and maybe more people will see it than they would pick up an expensive art book, but it would still give me a feeling of accomplishing something.
No Thanks! Pass!!
KreepingSpawn's avatar
Oh, forget that!  ;[
Very disappointing.
Vargvast-Creations's avatar
'For Exposure' has and always will be a bullshit form of payment. They can stick their dicks in a steaming molten bowl of ass juice.
bairdduvessa's avatar
if i were the type to buy that book, i wouldn't know
Chaosbandit's avatar
*polite golf applause*

Well said.
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