The great unsanctioned print crackdown we predicted a few weeks ago may be roaring down the highway. The following letter has been sent to exhibitors and Artist Alley tablers for next week’s WonderCon:
WonderCon takes the issue of copyright infringement very seriously. Exhibitors who violate copyright law run the risk of arrest and prosecution. Each year representatives from MPAA, RIAA, and law enforcement agencies are present at WonderCon to enforce copyright licenses and arrest violators.
We expect that, as in years past, there will be copyright holders and law enforcement at WonderCon looking for bootleg items and they will not be shy about enforcement. WonderCon does not knowingly allow the sale of unlicensed merchandise. We will cooperate completely with all law enforcement agencies. If you are unsure whether or not material you have is unlicensed, or otherwise illegal, we suggest that you do not bring those items with you to WonderCon. It is better to err on the safe side.
If you have any questions or require clarification on the contract, or policies of WonderCon and Comic-Con International in general, please feel free to contact us at (619) xxx-xxxx and ask for the Exhibits department.
While the letter can caused a flurry of alarm on social media, the mention of the MPAA and RIAA suggest its specifically about bootleg movies and DVDs, which have been banned from most reputable cons for some time. WonderCon’s new location in LA makes industry scrutiny way more likely and that could be the reason for the letter.
Or it could be the beginning of the print crackdown. This notice could easily be expanded to include the unlicensed prints and occasionally other merch, t-shirts and the like, that are seen in every artist alley at every con around the world and which seem to be headed for a showdown at Copyright Violation Corral.
Marvel already has a program in place to give its artists some leeway in what they sell, this could become the norm as other companies take steps to shut down the most egregious violators.
Most people I talk to seem to hope that this hits the “Wall of prints” guys first. There are several of them and they tend to have immense displays of frankly not the best quality color xerox prints that loom over Artist Alley like the 2 for $10 socks booths at your local street fair. Bring down the entire tone.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.