Creators’ families’ rights: merit vs. inheritance

by  in Comic News Comment
Creators’ families’ rights: merit vs. inheritance

A lot of the logic in this anonymous comment about creators’ rights doesn’t track, but he or she makes a point that caused me to stop and think. A large part of the creators’ rights conversation is about being paid appropriately for something you made. In other words, people should be compensated financially based on the merit of their work. I’ve always assumed that compensation should also apply to the creator’s family when the creator is no longer alive to collect it, but the commenter attempts to poke holes in that assumption.

He or she suggests that merit-based pay and inherited finances are diametrically opposed values. I disagree, mostly because of the way families work. Sharing wealth is one of the things that families do; if everyone in the family received only the money that she or he worked for, children would starve; to say nothing of husbands or wives whose full-time jobs are managing the household. That’s a ridiculous proposition because merit isn’t based solely on what one does for a living. My son merits being taken care of simply because he’s my son and my wife and I owe it to him. But, even though I reject that inheritance and merit are in opposition to each other, the commenter does have me thinking about the limits to which a creators’ heirs should be able to exert their rights.

As I was thinking aloud over the ERB Inc. vs. Dynamite case on my blog and Google+, I read several comments that were directed negatively toward the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I still haven’t figured out how I feel about that whole deal, but what surprised me was that the comments weren’t directed at the odd and inconsistent tactics ERB Inc. has used, but simply at how the family is now several generations removed from the original creator. Setting the actual law aside for the purposes of this discussion, for how long should a creator’s family morally be able to profit off that creator’s work?