Entrepreneurship Lessons from Calvin & Hobbes

Update 05/21/07: I have decided to take down the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strips. If you were directed to this page with the promise of cartoon strips, please accept my sincere apologies.

Last Friday evening, I was feeling too relaxed to put together a serious post. It seemed like it would be a fun idea to post strips of Calvin & Hobbes instead. I have been a huge fan of C&H for a long time, and thought it would be a neat idea to bring together some of Calvin's whacky ideas to make money, in one single post. I already knew which strips I wanted to include, but finding them online, adding the captions, and in general, putting that post together was a lot of work, and I was quite proud of that post.

The article was a runaway success and drew in a lot of visitors. I was very happy. I guess there is a little bit of Calvin in me - feeling happy for "my" success, when the credit was really due elsewhere :)

A couple of people pointed out to me that I was likely violating copyright. I had accredited the website where I had obtained the strips from and so I thought I should be fine. But it kept nagging me. I had read stories of how Bill Watterson (the creator of Calvin & Hobbes) had turned down several lucrative offers to commercialize the cartoon because he did not want to cheapen them. I really respect that stand (though I don't necessarily agree with it, but that is a different story). I didn't want to violate the wishes of a person whose work I so loved and whose stand I respected.

So, I mailed the author of the site from where I had downloaded the cartoons asking him permission for posting the strips on my blog. The site looked quite legitimate, and I thought it might be a licensed site. But the author told me he didn’t own the rights and requested me not to send any traffic to his site since he had created the site for personal use. OK. What next? A part of me wanted to just ignore the whole thing - the traffic was just too good. And another part told me I had to do the "right" thing. Finally, I gave in, and contacted Universal Press Syndicate, the syndication that has the rights to the C&H strips, requesting permission to post the strips. My request was denied. To quote from the mail -

We must ask that you remove the Calvin and Hobbes strips from your Website as that use violates Mr. Watterson's copyrights. Mr. Watterson has always held very strong feelings about how his work is used and distributed. (He explains those feelings in his Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book). While some of his fans may find his decisions difficult to understand, we have an obligation to respect and enforce them. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

And so, the strips have to go :(

I HATE doing the "right" thing!!!

Well, at least I am going to sleep well tonight.

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