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 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".
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