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Guild Announcements

The Guild Supports the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 05, 2017

The Graphic Artists Guild welcomes the introduction of HR 3945, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 or CASE Act. The Act was introduced by Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Tom Marino (R-PA) and is co-sponsored by Doug Collins (R-GA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Ted Lieu (D-CA). The CASE Act seeks to establish a small copyright claims tribunal within the Copyright Office. Copyright holders could present claims with potential damages of $30,000 or less in a low-cost, simplified process.

Bringing an infringement lawsuit in federal court is prohibitively expensive for most individual creators, and many lawyers are reluctant to take on cases with potential awards less than $30,000. Additionally, infringers capitalize on the failure of most individual copyright holders to register their work, as well as their limited resources to pursue a lengthy and costly lawsuit. The procedure proposed in CASE would provide individual rights holders a  voluntary and affordable means to enforce their rights.

Working with a coalition of visual artists associations, the Guild has long advocated for a small copyright claims tribunal. The coalition, whose members include the American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), issued a press release in support of the CASE Act. The Guild is also encouraging graphic artists and other creators to contact their Representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the bill.

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

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:
 

Coalition of Visual Artists Welcomes Introduction of Establishing Small Claims Board for Copyright

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on July 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2016

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesRep. Judy ChuIn the wake of its release of a white paper setting out the key components of a copyright small claims bill, a coalition of visual artist groups commends the attention that this critical issue is now garnering on Capitol Hill. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' (far right) [D-NY] introduction, along with original co-sponsor Tom Marino [R-PA], of a bill, H.R. 5757 establishing a small claims board and the forthcoming introduction by Rep. Judy Chu (right) [D-CA] of her own version of small claims legislation establishing a small claims tribunal in the Copyright Office, are a welcomed next step in a process that will hopefully result in much-needed legislative relief for photographers, photojournalists, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, and other visual artists and their licensing representatives. These artists are currently squeezed out of the legal system by the high cost of bringing suit in federal court and have seen their licensing revenues decimated in recent years by the proliferation of copyright infringement, particularly in the online context.

We look forward to working with Representatives Jeffries, Chu and all members of Congress to correct this inequity in America's copyright system.

Earlier this year, the coalition, which includes the American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), set forth recommendations with regard to key components in any forthcoming congressional small claims legislation. 

Coalition members believe small claims reform to be their top legislative priority and call upon Congress to enact legislation that provides visual artists and other small creators with a viable, affordable alternative to prosecuting copyright infringement in federal court—a prohibitively expensive and little-used option by visual artists. This approach is largely consistent with the legislative recommendations set forth in the "Copyright Small Claims" report released in late 2013 by the U.S. Copyright Office which deserves much credit for its groundbreaking effort in this area.

A copy of the visual artists’ coalition's white paper is available here.

For more information, please go to http://copyrightdefense.com/action


James Lorin Silverberg, Legal Counsel for the American Photographic Artists, Inc. (APA) said, “A Copyright Small Claims Court promises to provide authors and content users with an expedient, cost efficient, forum for the resolution of copyright disputes. But the importance of a small claims system is not merely to resolve differences between rights owners and rights users. By making copyrights enforceable in practical terms, it acts to restore the integrity of the copyright system, and copyright licensing models, and it contributes to a more vibrant and healthier intellectual property economy.”

Thomas Kennedy, executive director of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) said, "Implementing a small claims tribunal system within the U.S. Copyright Office is essential to ensure photographers, illustrators, graphic designers and other visual artists are appropriately protected and incentivized to continue producing work that changes how people see their world."

Cathy Aron, Executive Director of the Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) said, “Our association supports the creation of a copyright small claims forum to encourage licensing of visual content from legitimate sources. A small claims court should help stem the tide of “right-click” image use as it offers content creators and their representatives a way to effectively enforce copyright and seek appropriate payment. The digital economy needs to work for all participants and this is an essential step forward.

Lisa F. Shaftel, National Advocacy Liaison of the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) said, “Too often when an infringement is discovered, there is little or nothing a visual creator can do to stop the infringing use or recoup financial damages. Our current copyright laws are virtually unenforceable when damages resulting from infringement would be under $30,000. That’s not much to big business, but to self-employed independent contractors and small studios this is a significant loss of income. This relatively ‘small-value’ infringement happens to nearly every professional illustrator and graphic artist during his or her career, causing economic harm to small businesses and families.”

Melissa Lyttle, president of National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), explained the importance of such a measure to photographers. “Photojournalists tell the story of our nation and our world, and their work is a critical piece of our democracy, but rampant infringement has devalued our work and made it increasingly difficult to make a living in this field. A small claims solution has the promise to improve the financial viability of our profession and preserve the ability of journalists to tell stories that would never be told otherwise.”

Sean Fitzgerald, president of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) said, “America’s photographers and visual creators are desperate. Today’s digital age has unleashed a torrent of ‘small’ but destructive infringements that are eating away at the value of their work, but the current copyright system is simply not designed to help with such claims. A small claims court designed to give photographers and visual creators a fighting chance at protecting their work and livelihood from infringement is sorely needed and long overdue.”

 

visual artists coalition logos

Meet Yanique DaCosta, Southern Region’s Candidate for Representative!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 30, 2016

Yanique DaCostaThere’s a strong wind blowing from the South… We’re delighted to announce another candidate for regional representative, designer and fine artist Yanique DaCosta. DaCosta first came on our radar when she enthusiastically agreed to participate on a number of our member outreach initiatives, and her energy and drive – and infectious laugh – made a huge impression. So we were thrilled when she decided to run for the role of Southern Region Representative to National.

DaCosta originally hails from the South – the very far South beyond the US borders. She was born in Jamaica, but moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL in 2006. She has a long education in design in the arts: Associates degree in Graphic Design from Miami Dade, Bachelors in Studio Arts from Florida Atlantic U., and Masters degree in Media Arts from Full Sail. Her design firm, YKMD, focuses on brand development and new media. While her client base is broad, she’s been especially active in the entertainment industry, having worked on projects for HBO, ClearChannel, Atlantic Records, and Circle House Studios.

She has also continued to paint, and will be exhibiting later this year at a Caribbean art and music festival, as well as at Old Dillard High School Museum, a magnet school she first attended when arriving in the USA. In her spare time, she will be teaching a figure drawing at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Broward County, FL. The center is located in a predominantly African American and culturally enriched community, and teaching there is her way to give back to her community.

Below: DaCosta loves to connect with fellow designers, and continues to paint. (Used with permission)

Panique DaCosta arts advocatePanique DaCosta, fine artist

DaCosta became aware of the Guild from the designer Barry Zaid, who she meet in the hallways of Miami International University, and Art Institute. Zaid is an accomplished designer and illustrator, originally employed at Pushpin Studios in New York City. He employed DaCosta in his studio, helping to digitize his vast library of artwork (much of which was created before the advent of publishing software). In hearing DaCosta complain about the low fees – packaged as work for “exposure” – demanded by entertainment companies, Zaid suggested she take a look at the Guild, an organization he had joined years earlier. She did, and became a member in March 2016, wanting to be a part of an advocacy organization for visual artists. As she said, “What’s the point in just sitting around and complaining? Do something!”

She’d like to bring that energy and drive to the Guild board, working to raise awareness of the Guild and the initiatives we support. At the outset, she’s working on utilizing social media to get the Southern Region noticed, scheduling Twitter chats  and planning meetups. Her background in digital media and marketing is apparent; she’s already drafted a series of talking points based on information from our Handbook, and she’s gotten several design colleagues with big followings to participate. Her goal is to make the organization appear a bit less “starchy” so that our message of self empowerment and knowledge resonates. After all, “people won’t follow you unless they have a personal connection to you.”

You can connect with DaCosta through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also check out her vlog on YouTube; her irreverent take on working for “exposure” is worth a listen. 

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Guild Webinars

Webinar Banner image by Rebecca Blake

Looking to keep up with industry trends and techniques?

Taking your creative career to the next level means you need to be up on a myriad of topics. And as good as your art school education may have been, chances are there are gaps in your education. The Guild’s professional monthly webinar series, Webinar Wednesdays, can help take you to the next level.

Members can join the live webinars for FREE - as part of your benefits of membership! Non-members can join the live webinars for $45. 

Visit our webinar archive page, purchase the webinar of your choice for $35 and watch it any time that works for you.

 


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