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Copyright Law

15th Edition of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines Published

Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 16, 2018

The cover of the Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines

The latest edition of the industry bible, informally known as “PEGs”, was released in early April. In addition to the popular pricing tables and sample contracts, the 15th edition features a greatly reworked chapter on Surface Pattern Design, and an expanded and updated chapter with professional, business, and legal resources. Throughout the book, text has been updated to reflect current trade practices and conditions.

 Illustrator and Guild member Ben Pernini was commissioned to create the colorful cover art. Book designer and Guild member Dawn Mitchell handled the art direction. 

The update of the ebook Primer Series based on the Handbook is currently in production. Look for it this summer!

KODAKOne Uses Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency to Manage Image Rights

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 15, 2018

KodakOne logo

On January 9th,at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Kodak announced the image rights management platform KODAKOne, created in partnership with WENN Digital. The platform will utilize blockchain technology to permit photographers to register, manage, archive, and monetize their images seamlessly from a single platform. Photographers will be able to license their work using the KodakCoin cryptocurrency. The platform will also assist photographers in getting unlicensed users to license the images.

The blockchain technology will create an “encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers”. Blockchain creates a “block” of transactional records linked into a “chain” by hash functions, essentially creating a digital fingerprint that follows a file as it travels the Internet. Image transactions and licenses will be stored in a decentralized database. KODAKOne will also provide web crawlers to detect the unauthorized use of images, after which the platform will manage the “post licensing process,” as KODAKOne describes it. Payments for image use will occur immediately in KodakCoin.

Kodak’s announcement generated a great deal of excitement, at least among investors; shares of Eastman Kodak stock more than tripled after the announcement. How effective the platform will be in addressing photographers’ (and visual artists’) IP management needs is still in question. 

As Nancy Wolfe and Kyle Brett wrote on the DMLA blog, previous attempts at creative rights databases – for example, the Global Database Repertoire for music rights – have failed. Additionally, questions remain on how KODAKOne will address infringements. Will infringers be asked to pay for the infringement, and if so, will that amount be a reasonable licensing fee? 

The ICO (Initial Coin Offering) for KodakCoin has been delayed from the original January 31stopening. Because of US regulations, the over 40,000 investors who are interested in joining the token sale must be thoroughly vetted by Kodak. KODAKOne promises that progress is being made on the ICO, and that presale rounds will shortly close. Interested visual artists can subscribe to KODAKOne’s email list to receive news on the platform.

Google Changes Image Search to Accommodate Copyright Concerns

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 02, 2018

In mid-February, Google announced that it was changing its image search interface to address the concerns of copyright holders. The “view image” button that appears when users clicked onto an image found via Image Search was removed, and the copyright disclaimer, warning users that search results may be copyrighted, was made more prominent. The “View Image” button had taken users directly to the image URL, permitting them to bypass the website on which the image was embedded. 

Google also removed the “Search by Image” button, although they kept their Reverse Image Search functionality. In a follow-up tweet, Google confirmed that the changes were made as part of their settlement with stock image giant Getty Images, and were intended to “strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”

The settlement with Getty Images was the outcome of an anti-competition complaint Getty filed against Google with the European Commission in 2016. The complaint focused on changes Google implemented in their image search interface in 2013, which permitted users to access high resolution images directly via image search, rather than viewing a list of thumbnails linking back to the original website. Getty contended that Google’s Image Search facilitated copyright infringement, turning unwitting users into “accidental pirates.” 

Google View Image button removed

The “View Image” button has been deleted, as shown by a recent image search.

Prior to the settlement announcement, Getty withdrew its complaint with Google. The agreement with Google was announced by Getty as a multi-year licensing partnership, in which Google would use Getty’s content within Google’s products and services, “improv[ing] attribution of our contributors’ work and thereby growing the ecosystem.” 

Reaction to Google’s announcement on Twitter was largely negative, with many complaining of the added inconvenience or accusing Google of selling out users. A few voices, such as photographer Roy Singh, pointed out that Google’s image search shouldn’t facilitate the theft of their images. Users didn’t have long to fret about being inconvenienced. Within a week of Google’s announcement, a Chrome extension restoring the “view image” button appeared in the Chrome webstore.

There’s Work to Do on Copyright Small Claims

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 19, 2018

We've never been this close.  

For years, creators and visual arts organizations like ours have been asking for a copyright small claims court. In 2016, two bills that were introduced into the House sought to establish such a court, and just last October, the CASE Act (H.R. 3945) was introduced. The CASE Act is widely supported; representatives from both sides of the aisle have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, and articles posted in trade journals, news publications, and industry blogs welcome it.

Why is a copyright small claims court getting so much attention?

The system currently in place for protecting copyrights simply doesn't work well for individual creators. If your work has been infringed, your only recourse is to take the infringer into federal court – a process that is expensive, time-consuming, and confusing.  You’ll need to hire a lawyer, and yet many lawyers won’t take on infringment lawsuits where the potential award is under $30,000, far beyond what can be expected in than many small infringement cases. The federal court systems works for large copyright holders — companies or individuals with high value copyright claims. But for many individual artists, the federal court system is simply out of reach.

A copyright small claims court would give individual creators an alternate path – one that is affordable, easy, and streamlined. And while the system outlined in the CASE Act limits the remedies – for example, statutory damages would be capped at $15,00/work or $30,000 total — the small claims court would be entirely voluntary. That means artists who registered their work, and who have a substantial claim, can still take the case in federal court.

There is work to be done.

While we’re thrilled with the amount of attention the bill has gotten, and the number of representatives across party lines who’ve copsponsored the bill, there is still a lot of work to do. The simple truth is that most bills die in committee. In the last session of Congress (2015-2017), only 3% of the bills introduced were enacted into law. The only way to get The CASE Act moving forward is to keep a spotlight on it. 

You can help by asking your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3945, the CASE Act. It's easy: go to the “take action” pages on the Copyright Alliance website or on Copyright Defense

If your representative is already co-sponsoring the bill, shoot them an email and tell them thank you. Then spread the word to your friends, family, colleagues, teachers, co-workers, etc. Direct them to this article, and to the Copyright Alliance and Copyright Defense pages. 

Below: the Capitol Building, viewed during our January trip to lobby for copyright small claims.© Graphic Artists Guild

The Capitol

The Guild Joins Visual Artists for a December Lobbying Visit

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on December 08, 2017

​On December 4-5, the Guild joined our Coalition of Visual Artists for a trip to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of graphic artists in support of the CASE Act.  The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act was introduced by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and  Tom Marino (R-PA) in October. The Act creates a Copyright Claims Board to oversee small copyright cases in a process that for copyright holders is faster, less expensive, and simpler than the current system. While the Act has had wide bipartisan support – five co-sponsors across party lines – the Guild and Coalition members are encouraging additional Representatives to co-sponsor the bill.

The Guild joined counsel and members of the photography associations ASMP, NANPA, NPPA, PPA, and APA, as well as Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid, in meeting with the staffs of a number of representatives. To make the case for the CASE Act, we focused our comments on an explanation of how the very means by which graphic artists generate publicity and find new clients — online portfolios — is rampantly infringed. We also explained that with a majority of lawyers declining to take copyright infringement cases with a potential outcome of under $30,000, individual graphic artists are often left limited options when their copyrights are infringed.

The Guild will continue to lobby on behalf of the legislation, and as it works its way through committee, will work to ensure that the interests of graphic artists are reflected in the bill. We’re also asking creators to contact their representative and ask him or her to consider co-sponsoring the bill. An action portal on copyrightdefense.com has been set up for individuals to find the contact information for their representative; a sample email and telephone script have been provided.

Below: A view of the Capitol from outside the Rayburn Office Building, which houses the offices of Representatives.

Rayburn Office Building and the Capitol

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