Margeret Weis Productions and Non-payment

March 3, 2012

Ben Lehman has posted a call to avoid buying MWP books as they have been failing to pay their freelancers. (Of course, I find this out after picking up the Marvel game… :() (ETA4: Correction – Ben doesn’t call for avoiding buying the game, read carefully! He highlights the non-payment issue and points to the fact that you’ll have to make an informed choice as a consumer. This is my bad for bad reading as well.)

I’m hoping that freelancers do step forward and talk about the delays/lack of payment.

Given that MWP works primarily with licensed material, any claims that they don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to making contracts, or not knowing the need for contracts seems… a far stretch.

Sadly, we’ve seen this before with other companies, much in the same way. And that we’re still facing identified problems from 12 years ago. And also why the whole indie thing tied into more than just “whee, make games” but also creator control and ownership.

It’s not some “Rargh! Fight the power!” twee shit, it’s just that in our tiny hobby, we can look at everything from the erasure of Dave Arneson to industry standard being 3-4 cents a word and see that, when it comes to creative work, creative people get fucked.

Self publishing is the easiest way to avoid dealing with all of that. Or, you can deal with contracts and perhaps needing legal backup to enforce them.

ETA: A followup from one MWP freelancer.

Definitely read the full post, though these two points stood out to me:

A friend of mine got the payment that’s due before work starts months after the work was turned in. Someone else is waiting for payment on something from two years ago.
No one is making you freelance for anyone. Some of the ish that comes with working on badass licensed properties is a lack of prompt payment.

I’m not sure how the second point justifies contract violation as a reasonable thing, instead of simply having a different contract to begin with.

ETA 2: After a night of sleep, I get what bugs me about this. Anon is saying, “No one is making you do X”, which is a valid argument only when you know what X entails from the start.

If I sign a contract that says I get paid at a specific point, and my payment comes MONTHS after that point agreed to in the contract, I literally did not sign up for that.

ETA 3: And, apparently 2 more folks say they haven’t been paid yet.

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