More Copyright Intrigue

November 29th, 2006 | Posted in News

I had no idea the following was going on:


Groups Form Illustrators’ Rights Coalition

A coalition of U.S. illustrators’ organizations have come together to speak with one voice on behalf of artists’ reprographic rights. That was the message delivered by the Illustrators’ Partnership to the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) which met in conference Oct. 28 ?¬¢‚Äö?ᬮ” Nov. 2 in Auckland, New Zealand. Representing the coalition were artists Cynthia Turner and Brad Holland of the Illustrators’ Partnership and Terrence Brown, Director of the Society of Illustrators. The twelve groups are:

  • The Illustrators’ Partnership
  • The Association of Medical Illustrators
  • The Society of Illustrators, New York
  • The American Society of Architectural Illustrators
  • The National Cartoonists Society
  • The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators
  • The San Francisco Society of Illustrators
  • The Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators
  • The American Society of Aviation Artists
  • The Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles
  • The Society of Illustrators of San Diego
  • The Illustrators Club of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia

The subject of the international conference was the licensing of visual art in the digital age, and the message delivered by the American groups was a response to the confusion that now exists because of competing claims to artists’ reprographic royalties currently being made by publishers, stock houses, free culture advocates and others.

The twelve U.S. Organizations, representing diverse genres of visual art, united to deliver a “White Paper” to the governing board of IFFRO. They were invited to address the full General Assembly of the international copyright societies. Their statement specified the intent of these groups to unite to constitute the “relevant rightsholder class” to represent the interests of their members in those cases where artists cannot monitor their rights themselves. At a previous meeting, this right had been challenged by a representative of the American publishers’ licensing arm, the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC).

At stake is the future of reproduction rights licensing of visual art, in particular where royalties are amassed collectively. In the past this meant “reprographic” rights ?¬¢‚Äö?ᬮ” the right of organizations, businesses and institutions to photocopy great volumes of published material. But as digital copying replaces traditional xerography, the volume of collective licensing is increasing. The concern for American illustrators is that as visual arts licensing increases through reprographic channels, digital rights revenues may slip away from artists and reps without their knowledge.

The coalition’s white paper was the result of a “summit meeting” of illustrators’ organizations convened September 14 by Terry Brown at the Society of Illustrators. It capped several years of research by the Illustrators’ Partnership and the Association of Medical Illustrators and it followed a June “fact finding” visit to the U.S. by Mr. Mats Lindberg, President of the European Visual Artists society and Chairman of the Visual Arts Working Group of IFRRO. The chaotic state of visual arts licensing in the U.S. is a concern to collecting societies in other countries where artists rights are better honored.

A copy of the statement and white paper will be forthcoming.

Interesting. International copyright issues have always been a big problem, but as the globe continues to shrink there should be a natural movement for visual artists of many countries to lobby to protect their rights.

Now if they can only do something about the foreign crooks that keep stealing caricatures and photos for their “stamps” and hawk them on eBay!


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New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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