Today United Media announced it might try to sell the licensing rights for Dilbert, Peanuts, and the rest of its licensing properties.
United Media has been handling syndication and licensing for Dilbert for over 20 years. They plan to keep the syndication part, which involves selling and distributing comics to newspapers. The licensing group, which is potentially for sale, manages licensing of Dilbert, Peanuts, and other properties to the third parties who put it on t-shirts and calendars and whatnot.
There’s no way to predict if this is good or bad for me. It depends who buys the rights.
Response to Jengineer:
The copyright holder is said to own the work. But to commercialize the work, a cartoonist might sign a deal with a syndication and licensing company such as United Media. A contract is created that gives United Media a share of the revenue in return for selling and distributing to newspapers (the so-called syndication part), and for making and managing licensing deals with t-shirt companies, publishers, and the like (the so-called licensing business). Contracts can be transferable, so United Media can sell its entire licensing business and along with its contracts to another company if a deal makes sense.
As a practical matter, being the copyright holder is less important than whatever contracts have been negotiated to divide up the work and the revenue.