Visual Artists Your Copyright is in Danger

A note about proposed copyright changes that affect visual artists. Please take the time to read and say something.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

It is important that if you ever expect to reuse your copyrighted work as a way to make a living that you respond to this Notice. They have explicity asked for artist’s comments on the proposed changes. But time is short. If you have not seen previous notices on this action, now it the time to write.

The Congressional machinery is at it again after a 8 year hiatus. The Copyright office is drafting a new Copyright Act. A major part of this revision is designed to break loose the use of your copyrighted art. Large internet firms and lawyers devoted to free culture on the internet are pushing this. Members of the Guild are writing letters. We need you to write one as well.

The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators is a member of the American Society of Illustrators Partnership, and is supporting the efforts to inform lawmakers about the damage that can be done to artist’s ability to conduct successful businesses.

Read more about this issue

Artists Alert: From the Illustrators Partnership
The Return of Orphan Works

The new recommendations would resurrect the failed Orphan Works Act of 2008. But there are new proposals that go far beyond Orphan Works.

The Copyright Office says that these artists’ issues are also “ripe” for legislation: copyright small claims, resale royalties, and other forms of secondary licensing which most artists have never heard of.

The deadline is THIS THURSDAY: July 23, 2015

American artists can submit their letters online here.
Non-U.S. artists can email their letters to the attention of:

Catherine Rowland
Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office
crowland@loc.gov

Read the Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry.

Read the 2015 Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report.

WHAT TO WRITE:
Because of our past opposition to orphan works legislation, the Copyright Office has issued a special Notice of Inquiry on Visual Works. In it, they acknowledge that visual artists face special problems in the marketplace and they’ve asked artists to respond to five questions:

1. What are the most significant challenges related to monetizing and/or licensing photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations?

2. What are the most significant enforcement challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

3. What are the most significant registration challenges for photographers, graphic artists, and/or illustrators?

4. What are the most significant challenges or frustrations for those who wish to make legal use of photographs, graphic art works, and/or illustrations?

5. What other issues or challenges should the Office be aware of regarding photographs, graphic artworks, and/or illustrations under the Copyright Act?

And we might suggest a 6th question of our own:

6. What are the most significant challenges artists would face if these new copyright proposals become law?

Since most artists have never written to lawmakers before, many of you have asked us for sample letters.

It is important that the Copyright Office receive unique letters.

Eight artists have provided their letters to inspire you to write. The letters are poignant examples written respectfully by artists telling their own unique story about their experience and concerns:

Letter 1: “I’m writing to stress that for me, and for artists like me, copyright law is not an abstract legal issue. Our copyrights are our assets. Licensing them is how we make our livings.” Read more.

Letter 2: “As a freelance illustrator, I need to maintain revenue streams in order to make a living for my family. The resale of my past images is part of my day to day way of doing business.” Read more.

Letter 3: “My art is reasonably well known since it has served the advertising, editorial, public relations and historical documentation needs of the aerospace industry, publications, the military services and air and space museums for 68 years.” Read more.

Letter 4: “I am writing to you as an award winning professional illustrator of over 40 years whose work has appeared in many major publications, books and advertisements, both nationally and internationally.” Read more.

Letter 5: “I have been a professional medical illustrator since 1975, and self-employed since 1981. During the course of my career, I have created thousands of illustrations…” Read more.

Letter 6: “Copyright is the basis of my income and ability to support my business. It is the only way I have to protect the accuracy and integrity of my work, and to negotiate an appropriate fee for re-licensing.” Read more.

Letter 7: “My specialty area is fetal development and women’s health illustration…The protection of these images is of utmost importance to my livelihood, and I have struggled to fight the rampant piracy of them, especially by political groups.” Read more.

Letter 8: “I am writing to ask that you create policy to protect visual authors and their exclusive rights, and support a sustainable environment for professional authorship. Read more.

Remember no one is asking you to write a legal brief. Copyright law is a business law, and the lawyers writing these laws know little or nothing about our business.

Let’s explain to them how the laws they’re writing will affect us.
– Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner for the Board of the Illustrators’ Partnership

Pass this on to other artists you may know in other organizations.
-Britt Griswold, GNSI VP

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