Free Art Licensing Q&A with J’net Smith, December 14
Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 29, 2016
J’net Smith of All Art Licensing is running her free Q&A on art licensing on December 14th. The session is open to designers, illustrators, cartoonists, and surface designers. Registrants can submit their questions in advance, and Smith typically covers 15-25 questions in each session. Because of the popularity of the sessions, participants are encouraged to register early to get their questions in the queue. Participants will also receive a free copy of Smith’s ebook, 20 Rules for Starting Your Art Licensing Business.
J’net Smith has contributed frequently to Guild resources. Most recently, she conducted a Guild webinar, “The New Art Licensing: Beyond the Basics,” which was well received this fall. She also extends a discount to Guild members on her licensing products and services. Currently, that discount is 25% off on all products and services, available for Guild members only through December 31st.
Judge Dismisses Photographer’s $1 Billion Case Against Getty Images
Posted by Rebecca Blake on November 25, 2016
Earlier, we reported on the lawsuit brought by photographer Carol Highsmith against Getty Images and other parties when she discovered they were invoicing users of her photographs, which she had put into the public domain. Getty Images and another stock agency, Alamy, were licensing photographs taken by Highsmith, which she had put into the public domain in an agreement with US Library of Congress. Highsmith became aware that Getty and Alamay were licensing her photographs when she received an invoice from License Compliance Services on behalf of Alamy, accompanied by a letter claiming she was using the images without their permission.
Highsmith sued Getty and Alamy for $1 billion, stating that since Getty is a repeat offender in copyright violation, statutory damages should be trebled. The defendant’s legal counsel pointed out, however, that the plaintiffs were conflating copyrights with rights management. Since Highsmith had placed her photographs in the public domain, both Getty and Alamy are legally permitted to license the images, and Highsmith has no copyrights to assert on those images. (Public domain works may be commercialized, as in the Dover Publications Design Library collections of public domain clip art and images.)
Highsmith did not sue for copyright infringement, but rather for violation of provisions the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. According to Lexology, Highsmith’s lawsuit made three major allegations — that Getty, Alamy, and the co-defendants:
1) violated a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which forbids the alteration or removal of copyright management information (17 U.S.C. § 1202) Highsmith’s agreement with the Library of Congress stated that her credit line must be included with any use of her images. Getty and Alamy altered or removed Highsmith’s credit line, and added their own watermarks and credit lines);
2) engaged in false advertising under the Lanham Act by implying that they were working on concert with Highsmith;
3) similarly, violated New York General Business Law § 349, which forbids businesses from engaging in “deceptive acts or practices.”
On October 17, the judge presiding in the case, US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, indicated that he was considering dismissing a number of Highsmith’s claims. According to Law360, the October 17 hearing largely focused on the claims relative to the New York General Business Law, indicating that the judge had already come to a decision on the other claims. In fact, on October 28, the judge dismissed all of Highsmith’s claims except those related to the New York General Business Law.
That left Highsmith’s lawsuit severely weakened. On November 16, the parties settled over the remaining New York State claims. (The terms of that settlement have not been disclosed.) The judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that Highsmith is forbidden from filing another lawsuit on these grounds.
Below: Highsmith’s public domain image, which Alamay invoiced her for.
Credit: Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
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.Previous Page Next Page
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