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Graphic Artists Guild

31 West 34th Street, 8th Fl
New York, NY 10001

Tel: (212) 791-3400

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Every artist ought to have at least an elementary understanding of copyright law. Second only to an artwork’s aesthetic qualities, it is copyright law that drives a work’s value and integrity. This is so because copyright law establishes and defines what it is that the artist owns of his or her work, both while the artist possesses the work and after the work has been sold, copied, displayed or performed.

Your creative expression can take on many forms:  writing, music, dance, culture, or visual art. Copyright protects your creative expression.

You have copyright the moment you physically create a record of your expression, but you need to register your copyright with the government before infringement to fully protect your work.

A lot of companies try to cheat freelancers out of important – and expensive – benefits. Answer the next 20 questions. It’ll help you know whether you should be asking for more.

What should be your first step when you have discovered someone has infringed on your artwork? While you might be tempted to grab a lawyer straight away and start suing for copyright infringement, such a strategy may not yield the positive results you are looking for.

In this 2+ hour webinar, illustrator Ed Shems and design director Rebecca Blake answered questions from students the real-world side of being a creative professional. The archived webinar is for anyone to watch. They also collected a list of resources both mentioned during the webinar, and culled afterwards in response to the students’ questions.

How can you tell if you as an artist have infringed someone else’s copyrights? In Lee Wilson’s The Advertising Law Guide, in the chapter “Copyright Infringement and How to Avoid It,” he writes: “The circumstantial evidence test for copyright infringement by unauthorized copying has three parts.”

“Comping” refers to the use of a photograph or illustration in a comprehensive layout for a new project, which is shown to a designer’s client in order to suggest the proposed direction for the new work. Although this is common practice in our industry, reproducing an image for such comping without permission is illegal.

What is a contract? A contract is an agreement, whether oral or written, whereby two parties bind themselves to certain obligations. Synonyms: agreement or letter of agreement (if the contract takes the form of a letter). This glossary simply explains what the clauses in your contracts mean.

When a contractor is assigned a project and sets to work, that independent contractor is the originator of the copyright. Contractors then license their copyright to the works they have created to their clientele.