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
In 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.”
Meet Yanique DaCosta, Southern Region’s Candidate for Representative!
Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 30, 2016
There’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)
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.”
Introducing Joseph Caserto, Eastern Region’s New Representative
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 24, 2016
The Guild’s Eastern Region is delighted to announce their new representative to National: designer Joseph Caserto. Caserto is a long-time Guild member and local advocate for visual creators, an active member of AIGA, the Freelancers Union, the Graphic Artists’ Guild, and SPD, the Society of Publication Designers. He sat on the Freelancers Union Board of Directors from 2011-13, and is on the SPD Student Outreach Committee, where he chaired the annual Pub(lications) Crawl from 2008-12. More recently, Caserto was featured in Guild enews for taking his alma mater, Pratt Institute, to task for crowdsourcing their mascot design, which set a terrible example for their students.
Caserto has had a long career as a designer, working primarily as a publication designer and independent art director. He is currently a freelance art director and designer whose clients have included Billboard, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Marie Claire, and Vibe magazines. Every year since 2008, Caserto has won American Graphic Design Awards from GD USA magazine. In 2008, he also received a Create Award. Caserto has taught extensively, having lectured at CUNY and NYU, and contributed to the Udemy.com learning platform. In fact, for the past few years, he’s extended a member discount on his Udemy tutorials on basic design and coding skills.
The Handbook Primer Series: Now in Android Flavor!
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 03, 2016
Want to read our Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines on your tablet, but don’t have an iPad? Now you can – our digital Primer series has just been released for Android. The Primer series repackages our popular Handbook as three volumes, which can be separately purchased. Volume 1, Business Practice Essentials, covers the professional relationships illustrators and graphic designers develop and the ethical standards needed to maintain good working relationships with clients and other professionals. Volume 2, Professional Issues & Legal Rights for Graphic Artists, covers the often confusing issues, such as copyright terms, work-for-hire, sales tax, and work on spec, that both self-employed and staff graphic artists encounter. Volume 3, Trade Customs & Pricing Guidelines, explores customary professional practices and provides sample pricing tables and salaries for various disciplines within the graphic arts industry.
The Android version of the Primer Series can be purchased from the Vital Source eTextbook platform. The Primer Series in iOS flavor can also be purchased from the iTunes store. Those who prefer to read in the bathtub and don’t want to risk dropping their electronic devices, can always buy the original Handbook in paperback from Amazon or any local bookstore.
Follow us on Instagram, and get a Peek into the Guild
Posted by Rebecca Blake on April 28, 2016
We’re now on Instagram! We’re working the platform to give a peek into the advocacy work we do, spread the word about design and illustration best practices, and partner with like-minded organizations. So far we’ve used our feed to participate in ico-D’s Design in Action campaign (leading up to World Design Day) – we snapped photos of unique projects that made our urban environments in Boston, DC, Maryland, and New York more sustainable. We’ll be using the account to provide a visual record of the somewhat dry advocacy work we do. Hopefully photos (like one of the extra-large cup of coffee required to get through several hours of dense copyright testimony) will bring our advocacy work to life.
We’ve got several other Instagram campaigns in the works, designed to promote our members, showcase illustration at work, and highlight regional activities. We’re concerned about navigating the problems raised by Instagram’s Terms of service (see the note below), so we’d love to hear back on how illustrators use the platform, without risking that their copyrighted work will be compromised. We’d also love to see your Instagram posts, so follow us, and let us see what you’re up to as well. You can follow us at graphic_artists_guild or search for #everyartistcounts.
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