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:
Ask a Pro Webinar and Resources for Illustration and Design Students Published
Posted by Advocacy Liaison on October 21, 2016
If length is any sign of success, our Ask a Pro webinar with illustration and design students coast-to-coast was a hit. Illustrators, animators, and designers logged on October 19 to ask questions of illustrator Ed Shems and design director Rebecca Blake, including entire classrooms from MassArt in Boston and the Art Institute in San Francisco. The webinar lasted over 2 hours – an hour longer than anticipated – and covered both questions submitted in advance and ones entered into the webinar chatstream in real time.
After the webinar concluded, the links and resources shared during the talk were gathered into a resource list. Additional links to articles, tutorials, portfolios sites, job boards, and recommended business tools were added to address all of the questions that were raised in the course of the webinar. The result is a comprehensive list of resources on copyrights, starting a business, self-promotion and marketing, pricing, productivity tools, service providers, and finding work. A link to the webinar, and the resource list have been published as “Ask a Pro! YOUR Q&A with a Graphic Designer and an Illustrator Webinar and Resource List” in the Guild’s Tools and Resources section.
The webinar was coordinated by the Guild’s New England administrator Carolyn Wirth, who reached out to MassArt’s Career Development Office to gauge interest, and Ed Shems, who developed the webinar and suggested its overall structure. The Guild also decided to make the webinar and resource list publicly available for free, in the hope that it would provide valuable insight into professional practices for students and newly minted professionals.
Illustrator Cory Kerr Makes the Case for Using a Contract
Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 11, 2016
“Good clients come from good relationships. Good relationships come from managing and meeting expectations. Expectations start at contracts.” This is how illustrator Cory Kerr begins his podcast, “Contracts and the Apocalypse.” The 11-minute video is directed to illustrators who are new to the business side of illustration, or who are uncomfortable with using contracts.
At the outset, Kerr allays fears that using contracts will scare away good business. In fact, Kerr warns that clients who are unwilling to sign a contract may be trying to evade paying the illustrator. Kerr also addresses the discomfort illustrators have in assigning a value to their work: “Value in exchange for value is how business works. And even if you're an artist or musician or some sort of creative, just because that seems more fun doesn't mean [you’re] not providing value and it doesn't mean it's not a business transaction.” Kerr stresses that exposure – creating work for free in exchange for publicity – is rarely a value-for-value exchange since, as he points out, clients rarely can offer the kind of exposure that would reward the illustrator adequately.
Kerr makes arguments for why illustrators should use contracts, and provides a quick overview of what contracts should establish: price, deliverables, payment schedule, and kill fee. Kerr also gives a huge plug for our Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines. (One clarification on Kerr’s presentation: the Handbook includes pricing tables created from pricing information provided by artists nationwide. These do not represent pricing the Guild recommends that artists charge, but rather, provide guidelines on what artists’ peers are charging.) The Handbook includes a full complement of sample contracts for a number of disciplines, and can be purchased either in print or, as a three-volume set, in eBook format.
Kerr has enhanced his podcast with a mesmerizing video of him working on a motorcycle-themed illustration, The Four Horseman. It’s an incongruous but delightful touch that somehow works in engaging the viewers’ attention, while not detracting from Kerr’s soliloquy.
Video © Cory Kerr. Used with permission.
The Power of the © Notice
Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 15, 2016
In June, we reported on attorney Leslie Burns’ article on CMI: copyright management information. Burns advised visual artists to put a visible copyright notice on work they post online, since doing so provides the artists with additional tools to bring to bear, should the work be infringed. In her follow-up article, “Your © is More Than CMI,” Burns goes into greater detail on how to effectively use the copyright notice, and why doing so is such a good practice.
First, Burns explains that the copyright notice must include the copyright symbol, the date of publication, and the copyright owner’s name. (For those confused on what the date of publication is, she goes into a bit of detail.) She then explains that if an infringer uses a work that had a copyright notice removed, the infringer can’t claim “innocent infringement” – even if the infringer got the artwork from another source, and had no idea that a copyright notice had been removed. Burns cites two copyright cases that support this rule: BMG Music v. Gonzalez and Maverick Recording v. Harper.
Infringers who have used works from which the copyright notice of watermark was removed have violated §1202 of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Burns calculates that the infringer could be looking at a minimum of $3,250 in damages ($750 for the infringement, and $2,500 for the DMCA violation), and possibly attorney’s fees.
Of course, none of this will apply if the visual artist hasn’t first registered his or her work with the copyright office. Remember, a work must be registered before an artist can sue for copyright infringement.While an artist can register work after detecting that it's been infringed, damages are limited if the work is registered after the infringement occurs. WIth a background in business and marketing management for a photography studio and a design firm, Burns is huge advocate for visual artists. Her website, Burns the Attorney, features a steady stream of articles on legal issues creative types need to be on top of.Previous Page Next Page
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