Fables about Copyright

Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly discuss whether Bill Willingham can put Fables into the public domain, and what it might mean for co-creation.

Episode 066     October 6, 2023
Contributors    Sophie Hope     |   Owen Kelly    

On September 14 Comic Book Resources reported that “Bill Willingham, the creator of the long-running Vertigo series, Fables, which was recently revived as part of DC’s Black Label line of comics, has announced that he is putting the characters into the public domain as a result of years of disputes with DC over his contractual rights to the characters of the series, which is about a group of mythological beings who were exiled from their homelands to go live among humans. … Willingham announced that, as of tomorrow, “15 September 2023, the comic book property called Fables, including all related Fables spin-offs and characters, is now in the public domain. What was once wholly owned by Bill Willingham is now owned by everyone, for all time. It’s done, and as most experts will tell you, once done it cannot be undone. Take-backs are neither contemplated nor possible.”

This episode follows on from last month’s discussion of enshittification. Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly discuss whether Willingham can in fact put his creation into the public domain, how this relates to Creative Commons licences, and what all this might mean in terms of licensing work that has been co-created by a team or a community.