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Advocacy

The Guild Joins Photographers in Meeting with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 19, 2017

Guild National President Lara Kisielewska and Advocacy Liaison Rebecca Blake joined representatives from ASMP, NPPA, and APA in meeting Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) September 15th. The meet-and-greet was organized by ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy and occurred at Photoville, the Brooklyn-based photography event. The Guild representatives took the opportunity to thank Rep. Jeffries for his work in introducing a bill to establish a copyright small claims tribunal, and discussed with him the blow rampant copyright infringement inflicts upon illustrators and graphic artists. 

The Graphic Artists Guild, ASMP, NPPA, and APA are members of a Coalition of Visual Arists. Other association members are DMLA, PPA, and NANPA. Working together, the Coalition provides its members a unified voice on issues of concern to visual artists.

Thank you to Todd Maisel of NPPA for use of the photos. 

Advocacy LIaison Rebecca Blake and ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy (far right) listen as Jeffries makes a point.

Guild Advocacy Liaison meeting Jeffries, photo by Todd Maisel

Jeffries speaking with representatives from photography associations ASMP, APA, and NPPA.

Jeffries speaks with representatives from NPPA, ASMP, APA.

Jeffries took some time to take in the “Charlotsville” exhibit, showcasing the work of photojounalists. 

Jeffries at Photoville

 

All photos © Todd Maisel. Used with permission.

Graphic Artists Guild Signs on to Copyright Alliance Letter to NAFTA Negotiator Ambassador Lighthize

Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 18, 2017

The Graphic Artists Guild has signed on to a letter penned by the Copyright Alliance and directed to US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer. Ambassador Lighthizer is currently negotiating NAFTA on behalf of the United States. The Copyright Alliance letter requests that the negotiations modernize the copyright provisions of the agreement, specifically strong copyright protection and enforcement, effective enforcement provisions, appropriate limitations and exceptions to those provisions, and incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in addressing online infringement. The letter stresses that small- and medium-sized businesses and individual creators (such as graphic artists) are undermined by copyright infringement even as we are “on the forefront for making creative works available on a global scale.”

The full text of the letter is included below.


August 16, 2017

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

The undersigned groups represent the interests of a diverse group of small and medium businesses (SMEs) and individual creators in the creative fields. What unites us is a reliance on meaningful and effective copyright laws. Together, the core copyright industries contribute over $1.2 trillion to U.S. GDP, employ 5.5 million workers, and contribute a positive trade balance—and SMEs and individual creators make up a significant part of these industries.

The internet’s global reach has made copyright protections and enforcement increasingly important to free trade agreements. The small and medium businesses we represent are often on the forefront of exploring new models for making creative works available on a global scale. Widespread copyright infringement and unduly broad limitations to copyright protection distort overseas markets and undermine the ability of our members to successfully and fairly engage in commerce.

The effort to renegotiate NAFTA provides an opportunity to modernize the copyright provisions of the agreement for the digital age and establish a template for future agreements. We urge you to look beyond the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to seek the highest standard of protection for businesses and creators that rely on strong copyright to compete successfully overseas.

Specific priorities for small and medium enterprises, as well as individual creators, include the following:

Strong and meaningful copyright protection and enforcement. The agreement should recognize the full scope of copyright rights, including making available, and remedies such as injunctive relief and statutory damages.

Effective enforcement provisions. Trade agreements are critical to fostering legitimate online marketplaces. A modernized NAFTA should respond to the challenges facing creators by including provisions to ensure effective enforcement and requiring legal protections for technological protection measures and rights management information.

Appropriate limitations and exceptions. NAFTA should reinforce the “three step” test for limitations and exceptions that has been the international standard for decades. The three-step test strikes the appropriate balance in copyright, and any language mandating broader exceptions and limitations only serves as a vehicle to introduce uncertainty into copyright law, distort markets and weaken the rights of the small and medium businesses and creators we represent. For that reason, we strongly urge USTR to not include “balance” language similar to what appeared in the TPP or any reference to vague, open-ended limitations.

Incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in addressing online infringement. Few SMEs have the means to devote resources to policing online infringement, and we therefore rely on service providers taking reasonable steps to minimize piracy that occurs on their platforms. To promote incentives for service providers to cooperate with copyright owners to address online infringement, the copyright provisions in NAFTA should establish appropriate standards for intermediary liability as well as appropriate safe harbor protections for intermediaries. We urge negotiators to provide for safe harbor protections in broader terms than how they’ve appeared in recent trade agreements. Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office are currently reviewing U.S. copyright law, and we want to make sure lawmakers have the flexibility to address shortcomings in domestic safe harbor provisions.

We thank you for your consideration of our priorities and look forward to working with you further as negotiations progress.

Sincerely,

American Association of Independent Music
American Photographic Artists
American Society of Journalists and Authors
American Society of Media Photographers
Artists Rights Society
Association of Independent Music Publishers
Authors Guild
Church Music Publishers’ Association – Action Fund
Digital Media Licensing Association
Graphic Artists Guild
Nashville Songwriters Association International
National Press Photographers Association
Recording Academy
SAG-AFTRA
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Songwriters Guild of America
Songwriters of North America
Textbook & Academic Authors Association
Western Writers of America

Guild Joins Coalition of Visual Artists for Congressional Visits

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on July 24, 2017

On July 20th, the Guild joined members of the Coalition of Visual Artists for productive meetings with Congressional staff on key copyright issues. The meeting is part of the Guild’s ongoing advocacy efforts on copyright reform on behalf of graphic artists. In December 2016, a years-long effort by the House Judiciary Committee on copyright reform culminated in a proposal by Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers. The Coalition issued a response in support of key features of the proposal, specifically greater autonomy for the Copyright Office, modernization of the Office’s IT infrastructure, and the creation of a copyright small claims tribunal. The recent visit sought to provide Congressional staff with a unified voice on behalf of visual artists on these issues.

Guild Advocacy Liaison Rebecca Blake joined staff and legal counsel from American Photographic Artists (APA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), and Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA). The Coalition’s response to the policy proposal on copyright reform can be read here.

US Capitol

Metro-NY Artists: Pro-Bono Legal Assistance for Copyright Disputes

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on June 27, 2017

Copyright Alliance logoThe Copyright Alliance has partnered with Cravath, Swain, and Moore LLP and  Columbia Law School to provide pro-bono trial services for individuals and small businesses involved in copyright disputes in New York City. Through the initiative, Columbia Law School students working under the supervision of lawyers from the firm provide legal counsel  and learn trial skills as related to copyright law.

Designers and illustrators operating in New York City with a copyright dispute are encouraged to apply for consideration in the program. Applicants will be considered based on criteria published on the Alliance’s website. If you’re interested in applying for the program, visit the website to download the forms. For more information, contact the Alliance”s Copyright Counsel, Terrica Carrington, at tcarrington@copyrightalliance.org. (Please note that applying for the program does not guarantee legal assistance.)

 

Copyright Alliance pro bono trial services

“First Expressed in Nature”: Science Illustrator Pieter Folkens Raises Copyright Concerns

Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 24, 2017

Pieter Folkens

Science illustrator Pieter Folkens came to our attention when we put out a call for a visual artist with experience in the entertainment industry. Not only is he a renowned marine mammal artist, Folkens has also created animatronics models used in films such as “Free Willy” and “Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home”. In April, Folkens represented visual artists with the Copyright Alliance at "Beyond the Red Carpet,” an event which showcased the creatives working behind the scenes in the film industry. The Alliance interviewed Folkens for their "Five Questions” interview series with individual creators. 

Five Questions with Science Illustrator Pieter Folkens” covers his early fascination with marine mammals, triggered by the discovery of fossilized shark teeth during a third-grade field trip, and shortly thereafter, excavating a 13.5 million year old sperm whale skull. That experience eventually led to a satisfying career documenting whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other marine life in scientific illustration and sculpture. As Folkens put it, “The creative process is an exercise in discovery. The enjoyment comes in two forms—initially learning new things followed by sharing them with others.”

However, it's the Alliance's probing of Folkens' experience with copyright infringment which is particularly illuminating. Folkens was one of the first science illustrators to focus on marine mammals, and his high-quality illustration has often been copied – his work has been infringed up to a dozen times a year (that he knows of). His method of dealing with the infringement is to send a passive notification, followed by an invoice for the use, and an attorney's letter. This sequence of steps permits Folkens to gauge the infringer's response and anticipate what steps he'll need to take. He strongly advises creators to “learn copyright law,’ recommending that they stay abreast of recent case law. 

It's clear he's followed his own advice in his response to the final question, on what he would change about copyright law. Folkens cites concerns with the merger doctrine and scenes à faire doctrine, two principles most visual artists are unaware of. (Put very simplistically, the merger doctrine states that when an idea and the expression of that idea are so closely tied together that they’re inseparable, then the expression can’t be copyrighted since ideas are not copyrightable. The scenes à faire doctrine states that elements of a creative work may not be copyrightable if the genre of the work dictates them – think of folklore, stock story lines, etc.) Folkens’ concern is that these doctrines are unfairly applied to works of visual arts, citing a comprehensive law review article by attorney Michael D. Murray.

In response to our query, Folkens went into greater detail:
“The issue is developing wrongly in the courts under the notion of “first expressed in nature” that says any depiction of an animal is not protectable because whatever an animal looks like or does was “first expressed in nature” and therefore not a copyrightable idea. (Taken to its extreme, Ansel Adams’ “Moon Over Half Dome” would not be a copyrightable subject because Half Dome is a rock that was first expressed in nature, and same goes for the moon.) It sounds absurd, but it has been a successful defense in several cases in the Ninth Circuit, even when the copying of the original was proven by the plaintiffs. The problem arises from the two step "reductive analysis” employed by the court that essentially removes all elements of expression in the first step (copyrightablity of the subject), keeping the second step (copying of protected elements) out of consideration and away from the trier of fact. I'm taking up that battle in the Ninth Circuit this fall.”

Folkens’ full interview can be read on the Copyright Alliance’s website. Folkens’ will also be presenting our June webinar with attorney Linda Joy Kattwinkel on "Inspiration or Infringement.”

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