The case is far from over, as a French lawyer discusses in this interesting article
on the Le Figaro
It bears repeating that crux of this decision only affects the situation in The Netherlands: it will also undoubtedly be appealed (not being a lawyer, I was uncertain at what level the decision had been handed down, but the French legal expert in the article is saying that the verdict can still be overturned).
There is also by no means any suggestion that copyright no longer pertains in the case of Tintin: that still stands, so images aren't made free to use by this decision; indeed, the French advocate is suggesting (or at least it appears so to me) that Casterman will have a vested in interest in not
rocking the boat, as it has more to lose by making unauthorized image use easier than it would gain.Update:
I've not been making much headway through the Dutch of the legal decision, but the paragraphs from the 1942 contact on which it hangs are given in French, which is far clearer, and not the huge surprise which seems to have been heralded:Art. 1 - Monsieur Georges REMI concède aux Etablissements CASTERMAN le droit exclusif de publication de la série des Albums LES AVENTURES DE TINTIN, QUICK ET FLUPKE, GAMINS DE BRUXELLES et autres parus ou à paraitre, dont il est l'auteur sous le pseudonyme de HERGÉ.
Art. 2 - Le droit de publication concédé s'étend pour toutes éditions en langue francaise et etrangères.
("Art. 1 - Mr. Georges Remi
grants to the Casterman
company the exclusive right of publication of the series of albums The Adventures of Tintin
, Quick and Flupke the Brussels Kids
and others, published or to be published, written under his pseudonym of Hergé
Art. 2 - The publication rights granted extend to all editions in French and foreign languages.")
So the court appears to have decided that these rights cover all
use of images in any publication; whereas (my guess would be that) the way Casterman and Moulinsart appear to have operated is Casterman have looked after the albums
, and the use of individual images is controlled by Moulinsart.
I can see both sides, but feel that the matter will be ironed out with a bit more legal to-ing and fro-ing.
It certainly doesn't expose some heretofore unknown contract, nor does it really suddenly reveal that Casterman has some new power it never knew it had - it just makes a different emphasis on the wording than that which Moulinsart and Casterman has done.Update update:
I've now read the full contract, and as someone else has pointed out to me it appears that what we have in the 1942 contract is the establishment of a new agreement, or perhaps an emendation of a previous contract, to ensure that as coloured albums become available that Casterman will be the publisher, avoiding the possibility of the new volumes going to a different publisher leaving Casterman with the black-and-white books.
The intention never seems to have been that this was Casterman gaining exclusive power over all use of the art; it also contains a clause (Article 9) explicitly saying that Hergé remains the owner of the works, so in that sense nothing has changed, even following this decision.
Furthermore, in the case of foreign editions, it says that the general principles of the arrangements for Belgian sales (payments per page, royalties, the number of free copies sent to Hergé, etc.) pertain, but will also be open to renegotiation as appropriate; as the Dutch court would surely be bound by the foreign section of the contract, it may be that there are further papers which could alter the provisions of this document.
We must wait and see.Update to the Update Update:
One other little technical point which may or may not be significant, but is at least interesting is that the "1942" contract is in fact dated "the ninth of April, 1142" (le neuf avril mil cent quarante deux
) - which must make it one of the longest standing agreements in publishing history, predating Caxton and the printing press in England by more than three hundred years... ;-)
it's a typo, but if one has to take one part of a contract at face value, why not all of it?Supplementary Information for the Update to the Update Update
As I had suspected, the copy of the contract doing the rounds is just that, a copy. It's probably even a transcript of the contract, rather than a duplicate taken from the source, so it is possible that the date typo was introduced at that stage, rather than having been present in the original. It explains why there are no signatures and no letterhead or other matter on the paper; at the very least you would have the signatures if this was the source document.