Update on Freelance Isn’t Free: NYC Mayor Signs Bill into Law
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on November 18, 2016
In a bright ending to a tough year, Mayor Bill DiBlasio of New York City signed the Freelance Isn’t Free Act into law on November 16. The law is the first of its kind in the nation, providing legal recourse for freelancers to pursue clients for non-payment. The law requires that employers supply freelancers with a contract for projects with a value greater than $800, and pay freelancers within 30 days of the submission of an invoice. The law also prohibits clients from extending an offer of payment lower than the agreed-upon fee. The law will go into effect in May of 2017.
The Freelancers Union is advocating to bring the law to other cities. Freelancers and their supporters are invited to sign the Union’s petition to bring the act nationwide. The Guild is a proud supporter of the Freelance Isn't Free initiative.
Illustrator and Lawyer Collaborate on Law & Artist Videos to Inform Graphic Artists
Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 08, 2016
In a bi-coastal collaboration that benefits artists, illustrator Mark Monlux (Seattle) and attorney Daniel Abraham (New York) have been producing Law & Artist, a library of videos on legal issues of interest to illustrators and designers. The videos are short, ranging from three to 12 minutes in length. Notably, they tackle some thornier areas of confusion, or bring to light considerations which are often overlooked. The information is peppered with examples pulled from case law.
For example, in an episode on derivative art, Monlux and Abraham use Shephard Fairey’s copyright infringement in his HOPE image as an object lesson. A two-part series on fair use goes into greater detail on parody and satire, and which is permitted under fair use. (News flash: parody and satire are NOT synonymous.) And an episode on attorneys’ fees delves into how those can be leveraged into any settlement an artist might get in a lawsuit. Monlux and Abraham consistently add to the series, permitting them to delve into the finer details on a number of thornier issues for artists.
Monlux and Abraham are a well-qualified team to advise artists. Mark Monlux is a cartoonist and illustrator, as well as an artist advocate. For many years, he served on the Guild’s national board, and he’s produced articles, videos, and animations educating designers and illustrators on legal issues. Daniel Abraham began his professional life as a professional illustrator before studying law. As a copyright attorney, he primarily represents creators. He publishes the blog Legal Easel, and has run seminars for the Graphic Artists Guild of New York.
Below: Off to a good start! The first installation in Law & Artist cautions visual artists to get the terms of their agreements in writing.
Relief for NYC Visual Artists: Freelance Isn’t Free Act Passes Unanimously
Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 31, 2016
On October 27th, the New York City Council unanimously passed groundbreaking legislation supporting freelancers: the “Freelance Isn’t Free Act.” Introduced by Councilman Brad Lander last December, the act redresses the growing trend of non- or late payment experienced by 71% of New York City freelancers, according to a survey conducted by the Freelancers Union. The bill requires employers to make payment within 30 days after a freelancer renders a bill, and gives freelancers recourse through the Department of Consumer Affairs or through small claims court to enforce their rights.
Below: Councilman Lander’s jubilant tweet:
Thrilled to report: "Freelance Isn't Free Act" to protect independent contractors from wage theft just unanimously passed out of committee! pic.twitter.com/jiKL7fNCp4— Brad Lander (@bradlander) October 26, 2016
Non-payment is a huge issue for freelancers nationwide, as documented by the Freelancers Union. In a nation-wide survey of over 5,000 freelancers conducted by the Union in July of 2015, 71% of respondents reported that they’ve had difficulty collecting payment over the course of their careers, and 50% of respondents said they’d encountered that within the previous year. Of those reporting difficulty in collecting payment, 34% were never paid. The survey results indicated that annually freelancers lose about $6,000 from nonpayment, and experience late payment on an average amount of $5,743. That’s a steep financial burden for most freelancers.
The act redresses non- and late payment of New York City freelancers by several means:
• Clients (not freelancers) are required to issue a contract for any freelance work that will total $800 or more over a 3-month period;
• Payment must be made within 30 days after serviced or rendered, or within an agreed-upon date;
• Clients cannot press freelancers to accept a lower fee in exchange for timely payment;
• Freelancers can file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs, or bring a court action against deadbeat clients;
• If the court rules in the freelancer’s favor, the client may have to pay legal fees and fines up to double the owed amount; and
• Repeat violators may be fined by the city up to $25,000.
For the act to be written into law, it must be signed by Mayor Bill DiBlasio. However, indications are that will happen, and support for the bill is widespread, as evinced by the unanimous vote. NYC Public Advocate Letitia James is a vocal supporter of the bill, which she and 32 City Council members co-sponsored. The Gothamist also reported that in an email communication, City Hall spokesperson Rosemary Boeglin indicated support for “laws that protect all New York City workers.”
In addition to conducting the payment survey, the Freelancers Union ran an extensive campaign to publicize and promote the act. Union founder Sara Horowitz co-wrote an op-ed on the issue with Brad Lander, the Union marshaled freelancers to rally at City Hall, and Union members testified before the city council. The Freelancers Union also ran an online petition supporting the act, published freelancer payment horror stories, and posted “The World’s Longest Invoice,” a running tally of the amount owed to freelancers.
Now that the act is practically a reality, the Union isn’t done. They’d like to take the initiative national, encouraging freelancers to propose similar legislation in their municipalities. They’ve kept up their petition to “Bring the Freelance Isn’t Free Act to your city.” So far almost 10,000 freelancers have signed it. The Graphic Artists Guild was proud to back the Freelance Isn’t Free act in New York City. We hope to have the opportunity to do so elsewhere.
Two New Guild Member Discounts: Art Licensing Services & Products, and Brush Calligraphy Workshop
Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 28, 2016
We have two new member discounts to announce! To retrieve your discount codes, log in to Member Central (upper right corner of our website), and visit our Member Discounts page.
Guild Member Discount: 25% off Art Licensing Products and Services
J’net Smith of All Art Licensing has extended to Guild members a generous 25% off of her art licensing products and services. This includes her intensive coaching sessions, SmartStart consultation and evaluation, contract negotiation services, video and audio classes, and her presentation package with product templates. The discount is offered through December 31. Smith is extending the offer to Guild members because they “actually have the chops to be successful in this exciting business.” To retrieve the discount code, log in to Member Central on the Guild website, and visit our Member Discounts page.
For those unfamiliar with J’net Smith, she is the licensing professional who made the cartoon character “Dilbert” a household name. She conducted a Guild webinar in September, “The New Art Licensing: Beyond the Basics.” Artists unsure of whether they should consider art licensing are encouraged to watch the archived webinar (available to members for free). Smith will also be offering a more advanced art licensing webinar with the Guild this Spring.
Florida Guild Members: Discount on Brush Calligraphy Workshop, Nov. 19 in Miami
Missy Briggs of M2B Studio will be teaching the basics of brush calligraphy in her workshop November 19: how to hold the brush pen, simple drills to follow, and an overview of suitable tools. Attendees will receive her Getting Started Guide and Upper and Lowercase Worksheets. All levels of experience are welcome, although Briggs requests that left-handed writers let her know in advance.
The workshop will take place on Saturday, November 19, from 1-4 p.m. at Creative Cove in Miami. Guild members receive $40 off the $140 price tag. To retrieve the discount code, log in to Member Central on our website, and visit our Member Discounts page. You can reserve your spot in the workshop on M2B’s Eventbrite page:
Statement on Removal of Registrar of Copyrights by Copyright Alliance
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on October 24, 2016
On October 21, Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, announced the removal of Maria Pallante as Registrar of Copyrights. With small copyright claims legislation introduced in the House and copyright law under review, the change in Copyright Office leadership comes at a sensitive time. The Guild is working with other creators’ associations to formulate an appropriate response, and to advocate for greater protection for visual artists. The Copyright Alliance, of which the Guild is a member, released a statement that echoes our concerns:
Copyright Alliance Statement on Today’s Changes in the Copyright Office Leadership by New Librarian of Congress
Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2016 – The new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, today announced that Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, has been removed from office. The following is a statement by Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid regarding the announcement:
“We are most grateful for the dedicated service that Maria Pallante has provided during her tenure as Register of Copyrights. Serving since 2011, Register Pallante’s commitment to evidence-driven policymaking and public involvement in the policy process should serve as a model. She has recognized the importance of copyright to both the U.S. and international creative communities and worked as a steadfast advocate for modernizing the Copyright Office and its technology initiatives. It has been an honor to work with Register Pallante.”
Kupferschmid concluded by stating: “We are surprised and concerned by today’s news, which comes at a time when the Office and others are considering many potential changes to the copyright system and law. As the national search for a new Register of Copyrights commences, we are committed to assisting the new Librarian and the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees with this important process, and view it as an excellent opportunity to continue the dialogue on the future of the U.S. Copyright Office. We support Karyn Temple Claggett’s appointment as the Acting Register and believe that her appointment will allow us all to be deliberate and take the time necessary to find the next Register.”
ABOUT THE COPYRIGHT ALLIANCE
The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing the copyright interests of over 1.8 million individual creators and over 13,000 organizations in the United States, across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. The Copyright Alliance is dedicated to advocating policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright, and to protecting the rights of creators and innovators. For more information, please visit www.copyrightalliance.org.
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