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Graphic Artists Guild

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IAF panels speakers

IAF Panel: Authors Rights Issues from “Across the Pond”

On April 15, the Guild participated in a panel discussion on authors’ rights and copyright issues conducted by the International Authors Forum (IAF) in New York City. The panel was hosted by the Authors Guild appropriately enough in the library of the Grolier Club, a private club for bibliophiles. Participants in the panel included a host of US and European organizations from the UK, Netherlands, and France. The presentations covered the recently passed EU Copyright Directive and Brexit, worldwide public lending right, small copyright claims legislation in the US, controlled digital lending, book piracy, and Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The presentations on the EU Copyright Directives and Brexit covered the somewhat controversial articles of the Directive, notably Article 17 (formerly Article 13), which holds technology companies responsible for infringing activity on online sharing platforms by ending “safe harbor” provisions. While the Directive was approved by the European Parliament, the provisions now need to be written into the member states’ national copyright laws. Brexit further complicates the implementation in the UK. Britain voted for the Directive, which is widely supported by the UK’s creative industries; should the UK leave the EU, a large part for their legislation would be to be replicated.

Another presentation which received a lot of attention covered public lending rights, which pays authors (including illustrators) a small fee for library lends of books containing their work. Jim Parker from  PLR International Network and Arjen Polman from Stichting described how the program works in over 34 countries globally, primarily in Europe but including Israel and Canada. The Authors Guild has been advocating for public lending right in the United States.

Tom Kennedy from ASMP and Rebecca Blake from the Graphic Artists Guild spoke about the advocacy work of US visual artist associations.

Tom Kennedy and Rebecca Blake presenting

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) also generated some discussion, with attendees contributing stories on how the “notice and takedown” process for reporting infringements is largely ineffectual. Rebecca Blake from the Graphic Artists Guild pointed out that the online platforms makes it easy for users to share content, but have set up roadblocks to the reporting of infringements via the DMCA process. Mary Rasenburger from the Authors Guild drew a comparison to Article 17 of the EU Directive, pointing out that the Directive is attempting to do what the DMCA doesn’t do: deal with Internet piracy.

Tom Kennedy from ASMP and Rebecca Blake presented on small copyright claims legislations, covering the advocacy efforts on behalf of The CASE Act 2017-2018. Mary Rasenburger concluded with a presentation on a variety of copyright concerns, including piracy and controlled digital lending, the lending of ebooks without licensing.

The evening ended with a reception hosted by the Authors Guild. It was a welcome opportunity for the attendees – creators of all stripes and members of IAF, the Authors Guild, the American Society of Media Photographers, the Graphic Artists Guild, the National Writers Union, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Textbook and Academic Authors Association – to meet and share their experiences.

Attendees of the panel discussion included writers, photographers, fine artists, illustrators, and graphic designers.

Top photograph (left to right): Luke Alcott, Secretariat, International Authors Forum; Barbara Hayes, Deputy Chief Executive, Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, Secretariat, International Authors Forum; and Arlette Bekink, Manager, Collective Rights at Pictoright (Netherlands).

Photographs © 2019 Jasmina Tomic. Used with permission.