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Guild Participates in Creative Rights Caucus 2015 for the House Judiciary Committee

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on November 12, 2015

On November 3, Guild members Shaftel (Advocacy Liaison) and John Schmelzer (past National President) participated in the 2015 Creative Rights Caucus for the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC.  The event was held in a Judiciary Committee hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building.
The Creative Rights Caucus is a bi-partisan legislative “listening” committee co-Chaired by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative Doug Collins (R-GA). The event was organized by the Professional Photographers of America [PPA]. David Trust, Executive Director of the PPA, moderated the panel discussion. Panelists included photographer Denis Reggie, illustrator John Schmelzer, photographer Mary Fisk Taylor, graphic artist Lisa Shaftel, and photographer Michael Grecco.
We had an extraordinary turn-out of approximately 150 people and standing room only in the hearing room.
The Congressional Creative Rights Caucus is a bipartisan Caucus dedicated to protecting the rights of content creators. More importantly, the Caucus aims to help the public understand that we cannot judge the entertainment industry by how well famous Hollywood or music stars are doing.

Panelists L to R: Denis Reggie, John Schmelzer, Mary Fisk Taylor, Lisa Shaftel, and Michael Grecco. David Trust moderated at the podium. Rep. Judy Chu is seated behind Denis Reggie. Photo courtesy of PPA.

2015 Creative Rights Caucus panelists. © PPA

The Restrictions in Stock Image Licenses Illustrators and Designers Need to Know

Posted by Rebecca Blake on October 06, 2015

Microstock websites – websites that purvey low-cost photos, illustrations, and icons – have become a standard image source for designers with small budgets and undiscriminating clients. Illustrators have also used microstock, either in the creation of collage or montaged imagery, or as reference material for illustrations. However, both designers and illustrators are cautioned to read through the licenses employed by microstock sites. The low fees and “royalty free” label extended by microstock sites do not translate to unlimited use of their images.

The terms of use of six microstock sites reviewed for this article – Thinkstock, Shutterstock, Getty, iStockPhoto, Dreamstime, and 123RF – all clearly stipulate that their licensed imagery cannot be used in the creation of logos, service marks, or trademarks. The language used to define the restriction varies slightly from site to site. Getty Images implies that an exception to the restriction can be requested in writing. Dreamstime restricts the use of their images in the creation of trademarks, but not logos. The remaining four sites are unambiguous in prohibiting the use of their licensed image in logo creation.

Restrictions which would affect illustrators seeking to use stock imagery as source material are not always as clearly spelled out. The license agreement for Getty Images is an exception; it states: “Licensee may not falsely represent, expressly or impliedly, that Licensee is the original creator of a visual work that derives a substantial part of its artistic components from the Licensed Material.” Of the licenses reviewed, only iStockphoto’s license includes similar language to Getty’s, but the other terms do restrict the reselling of their images. Since the authors of the microstock images retain the copyrights, one can reasonably surmise that an illustration based on a stock image may not be copyrightable.  A safer course of action for illustrators is to use source material that is clearly in the public domain.

There is a downside to using microstock sites in general. Much of the imagery uploaded to the sites is trite, stereotypical, or simply poorly executed. (Stock photos were beautifully lampooned by the fake images created to mark the release of the film, “Unfinished Business.”) Microstock is also blamed for devaluing the illustration and photography professions by using an unsustainable business model that can’t support professionals.

The license agreements for the stock images sites are:
Getty Images

Below: highlighted portions of the Getty, iStockphoto, and Dreamstime licenses.

iStockPhoto license Getty Images license Dreamstime license

Guild Member Discount for HOW Interactive Design Conference Boston, Nov. 5-7

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 30, 2015

At the HOW Interactive Design Conference (HIDC) in Boston November 5-7, designers and developers will explore the intersection of design and technology. The conference is packed with seminars, breakfasts, and happy hours. Talks will be given by industry leaders, such as Jen Simmons, designer and host of The Web Ahead, and Stephan Mumaw, Director of Creative Strategy at Hint and author of Creative Bootcamp. Guild members are invited to attend the conference at a discount of $50 off the registration fee. Register online on the conference website with the code GAG50.

HOW Interactive Design

October Drawing Challenges for Illustrators

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 23, 2015

For illustrators, October means more than autumn leaves, Halloween, and the return of pumpkin-spice-everything. Two drawing challenges extended during the month inspire artists to up their technical skills, as well has have a great deal of fun. For the rest of us, the month means we get to scroll through feeds of often beautiful (and beautifully ghoulish) artwork.

Inktober logoInktober is the better-known challenge. It was initiated by illustrator Jake Parker as a way to motivate him to increase his inking skills. The challenge is simple: artists create ink-based work (pencil under-drawing is permitted), and post it to their social media accounts and blogs with the hashtag #inktober. Parker posts the best of the work on the Inktober Facebook, Tmblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts. The challenge encourages artists to post a new work daily, but many are only able to commit to every other day, or weekly posts. As Parker wrote, “INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.”

Drawolleen is a similar challenge with a different focus. Artist Brian Soria was inspired by Thing A Week, an exercise by musician Jonathon Coulter in which he posted weekly compositions to “keep his creative juices flowing.” Soria retooled the exercise to challenge himself to draw a monster every day during the month of October. He extended the challenge to the illustration community, with a calendar of daily themes such as “Day of the Dummy,” “Vampire Venesday,” and “Urban Legends.” Artists can contribute work in any medium, and post their images with #Drawlloween or #Drawlloween2015. Last year, Soria launched #fontober, a similar challenge for creepy hand-drawn lettering. Sadly the challenge didn’t get traction, and hasn’t issued this year.

Drawlloween logo

Library of Congress Technology Woes Shut Down Copyright Office

Posted by Rebecca Blake on September 14, 2015

Copyright Office logoCreators seeking to register their work online at the end of August were foiled by a system outage that took the electronic filing system offline. The outage lasted for nine days, from August 28th through September 5 and was caused, according to a report issued by the office, by the shutdown of a Library of Congress data center for scheduled maintenance. The Library’s information technology office was unable to bring the system back online for several days, costing the office about $650,000 in lost fees, as reported by The Washington Post.

The outage came on the heels of a damaging report by the Government Accountability Office, which accused the Library of failing to prioritize digital technology or effectively manage its computer systems. The Copyright Office, which is a department of the Library of Congress, uses the IT infrastructure – the network, servers, telecommunications, etc – maintained by the library.  In her testimony before the House Judicary Committee in April, Maria Pallante, Director of the Copyright Office, highlighted the need for the office to modernize, with technology staff independent from the Library and focused on the Office’s specific goals.

Terrence Hart covered the dilemma facing the Copyright Office in his article, “Outage shows need for Copyright Office modernization.” Hart points out the futility of housing the Copyright Office within the Library of Congress, considering that the two have distinct administrative needs and missions. He concludes by calling for Congress to give the office “the autonomy and resources it needs, without further delay.”

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