Yeah, yeah, Moore signed a shitty contracy. Does that make it right?
If you have something you want to sell me or have a business deal you'd like to make with me -- the contract is where we dictate the terms of that arrangement. If either of us feels any of the terms are unfair, we have the right to simply back out of the arrangement. The contract is essentially saying, "I agree to this. This is the deal I made."
To use an analogy I have before, if you buy land from someone on the cheap (with all mineral rights), then you strike gold on that land five years later, the original seller is entitled to none of it. He agreed to the terms when he sold the land -- if he wanted to make sure he got some of that gold, he should have put it in the contract he agreed to sign.
Alan is a very smart person who came into comics after seeing what happened with Siegel & Shuster and Jack Kirby, so it wasn't really a case of a wide-eyed teenager eager to sell his first work.
With Kirby, Siegel, etc. I tend to feel badly for them -- it's hard to catch lightning in a bottle and watching a company make millions upon millions on your idea because you were young and you messed up must be agonizing. But while they have my sympathy, I do think a deal's a deal -- DC and Marvel took a gamble on publishing their ideas, they agreed to the terms when they began work for them, and in the end -- they made their own beds.
And to go to the flip side, it's not like we expect creators to give back their paychecks if a book totally flops and the publisher loses his shirt.
So, I feel bad for these guys but -- a deal's a deal. I don't think they got "screwed" unless they were somehow tricked into signing those contracts -- but from all indications, they weren't. They made a bad deal all on their own. The only one I think ever got "screwed" was Kirby when they tried to make him sign some special contract in order for him receive his original art, his rightful property, that no other creators had to sign.
And once you make a deal and the publisher lives up to their end of the bargain and gives you all the agreed upon compensation -- they owe you nothing, legally and ethically.
Back to the land analogy -- wouldn't you be pissed if you bought everything fair and square, lived up to your end of the deal, invested money into finding oil, found that oil, and then the original land owner comes back and want to reclaim it or get a sizable chunk of the profits you make from it?
DC isn't evil, they're just exercising rights that Moore knowingly agreed to. He made a bad deal but I can't blame the guy for not predicting his book would change the way the industry does business -- but I also can't blame DC for making the most of the deal they got either.
At some point, a deal's a deal, no? Don't sign if you don't agree to the terms.