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Guild Joins Organizations in Protesting the “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 16, 2015

CAA logoThe Graphic Artists Guild, together with National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), PACA Digital Media Licensing Association, and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), has published a letter addressing concerns with the College Art Association’s “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.”

Specifically, the letter contests a major conclusion of the study, that “copyright acts primarily as a barrier, encouraging self-censorship; and that artists are in an adversarial relationship with the marketplace.” The letter points out that artists only seek fair compensation to their work, and that the study fails to educate its audience on options for licensing work. The letter also notes that the study fails to address commercial applications of fair use made by museums and non-profits in the creation of objects and coffee table books for sale. Lastly, the letter expresses the dismay of the organizations that none were invited to particpate in the study groups leading up to the creation of the Code.

Some of the weaknesses identifed in the study, including incorrect assumptions of industry practices, misplaced recommendations, and the inclusion of personal opinion as factual information. The letter concludes that “Without participation from all of the stakeholders in the visual arts community there can be no consensus, let alone a set of “Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.” As developed, rather than “providing a practical and reliable way of applying” copyright law and fair use, the document creates far more misconceptions than it resolves and encourages misappropriation of copyrighted work rather than the practice of due diligence and licensing.”

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Guild Joins CreativeFuture Coalition to Address Piracy

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 12, 2015

Creative Future logoThe Graphic Artists Guild has joined CreativeFuture, a coalition of over 350 companies and organizations that seeks to address piracy. The coalition has three primary initiatives: mobilizing the creative community to speak up about the harm caused by piracy; advocating for policies which will staunch the flow of funds to pirate site operators; and educating youth about the cultural, ethical, and economic value of creative ownership. CreativeFuture is spreading its message via social media using the hashtags #RespectCreativity and #PiracyIsNotFreeSpeech.

Other coalition partners include major film studios and broadcast companies, as well as small, independent filmmakers, film festivals, professional associations, and IATSE International. The Executive Team at Creative Future includes Executive Director Ruth Vitale, formerly of Paramount Classics and Fine Line Features, and Director of Communications Chris Ortman, formerly appointed by Barack Obama to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Individual creators and organizations are encouraged to join Creative Future in taking action.

Below: A video produced by CreativeFuture describes value of creative works to the US economy, and how the for-profit black market in pirated goods undermines it. The organization has published a variety of educational materials on their website.

Speech on Type: Typography Podcasts by Typeradio

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 10, 2015

Typeradio LogoNow in its eighth year of netcasting, Typeradio is an internet radio stream with a wealth of material. The website offers a truly global view of typography, with in-depth interviews conducted at studios, offices, and conferences from around Europe, the United States, India, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to the interviews, Typeradio features a few delightfully cheesy music selections from type conferences (such as “CMYK” sung to the tune of “YMCA”). Other oddball offerings are the “One Minute of Type” workshops, in which students were asked to translate a typeface to one minute of sound. That project was further developed into Chinese Whispers, in which a second generation of students took the sound recordings and translated them back to typefaces, often with surprising results.

The real value of Typeradio lies in the range of interview guests. The podcasts are not just limited to prominent designers, such as Marian Bantjes, Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, and Michael Beirut. Lesser known, but equally fascinating, professionals from a variety of backgrounds provide insights into their inspirations, work habits, and belief systems. Many of the interviews begin with a rather intrusive question – often “Are you religious?” – and evolve into comprehensive discussions. (For example, Michael Beirut reveals that, driven by his OCD tendencies, he feels compelled to post his Design Observer blog posts with time stamps only ending in a “5” – 11:45, 1:15, etc.)

Since the podcasts have been collected over several years – Typeradio was founded in 2005 by Donald Beekman of Dutch design firm DBXL, designer Liza Enebeis, and type studio Underware – the list of podcasts is dauntingly long. Fortunately, visitors can sort the offerings by guest speaker, date, type of podcast, and location, or search for relevant interviews by keyword. (The search feature is somewhat buggy; typing a partial word seems to yield better search results.) Typeradio continues to broadcast—their most recent interview dates back to early March – and asks that supporters donate a small fee to support their work.

Below: clicking onto one of Typeradio’s podcasts triggers a dropdown menu with information about the interviewee and relevant links.

Typeradio screenshot

A Video Compilation: What Hollywood Thinks of Graphic Designers

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 05, 2015

For your diversion: design students Ellen Mercer and Lucy Streule of Central Saint Martens – University of the Arts London have compiled a video of graphic designers as portrayed by Hollywood. The 2-minute Youtube video features snippets from television shows and feature length films, with everyone from Meg Ryan to Keanu Reeves claiming their design credentials.

So how does the Hollywood portrayal stack up, at least as illustrated in this compilation? It’s a somewhat jaded depiction. There’s Ryan from “The Office” asking Pam to design the company logo (for free, if we remember the episode correctly), and Beverly from Episodes telling a young designer that she used to want to be one too, because she “loved to draw.” Perhaps the most cynical portrayal (from Chicago Fire) is the young woman who claims anyone with a laptop can be a designer: “Wish I’d figured that out before I racked up $60,000 dollars in loans.”

Bring your Blood Pressure Up: Spec Work Documented on Social Media

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 25, 2015

@forexposure Twitter streamIf you’ve been advised to keep your heart rate steady, you should probably avoid @forexposure_txt on Twitter and shitspecwork on Tumblr. @forexposure provides a steady stream of outrageous requests for free labor. Some of the requests are from businesses one could safely assume have a budget: “You will be doing interviews for a real media outlet. Our prices are affordable and way cheaper than classes.” Some make it clear that the projects have no funding: “In the past contributors have been expected to buy a few copies of the book to help with funding.” Almost all promise some sort of payoff in exposure: “In exchange you get exposure on my account when I tag you in my Instagram pictures.

The Twitter account is maintained by comic artist Ryan Estrada. The posts are often breathtaking in their audacity and general cluelessness: “We do have a budget for professional services, BUT WE DON'T WANT TO SPEND IT.” While the Twitter stream is so comical it’s hard to believe, Estrada assures us “These are real quotes from real people who want you to work for exposure.”

Until recently, 3-D illustrator Timothy Reynolds published the Tumblr spec work blog shitspecwork. The blog featured submissions of requests for free work from large companies, such as HBO, Audi and Coca Cola, to music bands looking for free poster design, to posts by individuals trolling for free labor. Some of the posts cover headline-generating campaigns, such as the Canadian government’s student contest for a logo for the 150-year anniversary of the country’s confederation. 

Unfortunately, Reynolds has ceased to post to shitspecwork. Last December, he sent out a request for anyone willing to take over the blog. Earlier this month, he posted that “I gave up on http://shitspecwork.tumblr.com last year because it took a lot of negative energy to run it. But if anyone wants to take over, lmk.” Interested parties can contact Reynolds via his Twitter account. No doubt there will be a wealth of material for anyone interested in documenting requests for free labor.

Right: @forexposure's Twitter stream.

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