Tintin copyrights go to war against Tintin fans

The British lawyer who married the widow of Tintin creator Hergé has successfully sued Bob Garcia ("a detective novelist, jazz musician and Tintin aficionado") for £35,000 for printing five short essays in appreciation of Tintin, two of which were illustrated with brief clips from the comic. The essays were distributed for free on a non-profit basis, and the two pamphlets with Tintin illustrations were printed about 500 times each.

Nick Rodwell, the plaintiff, was accused by Garcia of "a ruthless drive to kill off their harmless and not-for-profit passion in his bid to keep exclusive control of the Tintin brand."

Britain's "fair dealing" offers less protection to fans and scholars than does the US's "fair use" (itself a complicated doctrine). Combined with a litigious copyright owner, it's a recipe for disaster when it comes to free speech, scholarship, and fan activity.

Hundreds of Tintin fans have already backed Mr Garcia, who on Thursday called for a boycott of the film and claimed that many supporters were heeding his demand. More than 500 people have joined his page on the Facebook website which expresses "anger and disgust" over the issue. More supporters have also backed his cause on other websites.

Mr Garcia said: "We have nothing against Mr Spielberg even if there is a boycott threat against his film ... but are asking him to intervene in favour of not just me but all people who are being prevented from sharing their passion for Tintin..."

Stéphane Steeman, who ran the Hergé Friendship Club for 25 years, has just released a book in which he castigates Mr Rodwell for trying to kill off his organisation, called The Escalation.

He recounts how Mr Rodwell in his blog implies that two Belgian journalists criticised him because they could not pass on their passion for Tintin to their children as they were autistic.

Pierre Assouline, Hergé's French biographer, wrote that he "knows only too well" the "methods" of Mr Rodwell with his "victims".

Tintin film boycott threat over row with Hergé widow's British husband (Thanks, Will!)


  1. For the interested: the name of the facebook group is ‘Comité de soutien à l’écrivain Bob Garcia contre Moulinsart’

  2. The film will probably be an annoying adaptation of the comics anyway. Some authors estates deserve no fans and no support. Let them fade into the obscurity they seek.

  3. Cory, I love how you’re fighting the good fight on this stuff. I just ignore copyright on orphaned stuff, but sooner or later I’m sure it will bite me in the ass.

  4. Nick Rodwell is no stranger to controversy.

    In August, he used his blog on the official Tintin web site to attack journalists, claiming their hatred of him was down to the fact they had autistic children.

    Following an uproar in the French press, Nick’s blog was removed from the Tintin site. Full story – http://tintinology.poosk.com/2009/08/11/strange-days-at-moulinsart/

    There is a long running war against fan sites by Nick Rodwell and Moulinsart. Many of these sites certainly use copyright images but Mounlinsart’s heavy-handed approach is to shutdown sites with threats of large damages rather than valuing the fans who buy and promote their products.

    I run a Tintin related site ( tintinology.poosk.com ) and I received a letter from Moulinsart explicitly preventing me from using images of the book’s covers when selling Tintin books via Amazon. Apparently Moulinsart don’t like people selling their books for them.

    See http://tintinology.poosk.com/books-dvds/tintin-albums/ for more details.

  5. While swimming, I met a Tintin fan who was tattooed with images from Cigars of the Pharaoh. If Rodwell sees him, he may sue for rights to the guy’s body! Will he be able to dictate that the guy swim fully clothed? Will any doctor who examines him be required to wear a blindfold?

  6. Did the article really just shift from talking about a pamphlet to talking about a film? Confusing….

  7. well I hope this backfires and Mr Rodwell see’s a quickly diminishing interest in Tin Tin.
    fascist bastard!

  8. Ode to FOAD Nick Rodwell

    Can’t create so just appropriate
    Beg borrow steal or just
    Marry some dead cartoonist’s feel

    Attack those who love it best
    Get knotted knickers when we jest
    Can’t share, can’t care

    So he gets where he’s goin’
    That little bit cheaper
    Dig his grave a little deeper!

  9. speaking of the tintin movie, in my opinion the two greatest tintin movies have already been made. le mystère de la toison d’or (the mystery of the golden fleece) and l’oranges bleues (the blue oranges). filmed with actors and yet faithful to the comics. classics.

  10. …This is typical for Spielberg’s lawyers, some of whom happen to be and/or have been Lucas’ lawyers. Their view is to sue everything in a shotgun mode, knowing that for every 2000 violation of our Fair Use rights they’ll nail at least *one* person abusing those rights and making an unauthorized form of profit off of their client. It’s why the law needs to be amended so that when someone’s sued over Fair Use and it turns out they *did* have Fair Use rights in the clear, those doing the suing should automatically be liable for court costs and at least some semblance of damages. It’ll put a quick fracking end to about 80% of the cases where fans are simply beaten up on because some ambulance chaser needs money to pay off his golf/coke/whore bills.

    1. This is the main problem with litigation, even if you are totally in the right asserting this position is prohibitively expensive. You may be as pure as the the driven snow but unless you have the bucks to back yourself up you are less than useless.
      Also IAAL and it sickens me, I no longer earn money that way. Not to say that there aren’t righteous, trustworthy lawyers (they do exist), but I do not have the talent nor the ability to be one. So I’d rather not be a lawyer. I’ve found folks find me a lot more pleasant to be around since I’ve left that noble profession.

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