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Response Submitted to Copyright Office Reform Policy Proposal

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 31, 2017

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The Guild joined the Coalition of Visual Artists in submitting a response to the policy proposal for reform of the Copyright Office, drafted by House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R – VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D – MI). The proposal, released in early December, called for greater autonomy for the Copyright Office, the creation of an advisory committee, IT modernization, and the creation of a copyright small claims tribunal. The Guild welcomed the attention the policy proposal brought to reform of the Copyright Office.

In our response, the Coalition solidly supports the Judiciary Committee’s call for greater autonomy of the Copyright Office, providing that the Office’s statutory duties, such as providing counsel to Congress, are preserved. The Coalition also urges that modernization of the Office’s IT structure begin as quickly as possible, with technology solutions such as APIs built into a database structure so as to facilitate registration and copyright searches. In regard to the creation of a copyright small claims tribunal, the Coalition letter extended an in-depth discussion of the purpose and components of such legislation, drawing from a white paper the Coalition published last year.

Coalition signees to the letter include American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Digital Media Licensing Association, Graphic Artists Guild, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association, and Professional Photographers of America.

The Guild Signs on to Comment Letter on Group Registration of Photographs

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 31, 2017

Copyright Office logoIn conjunction with the Coalition of Visual Artists, the Graphic Artists Guild has signed on to a comment letter in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “Group Registration of Photographs,” issued by the Copyright Office. In the Notice, the Copyright Office asked for feedback on proposed changes to the group registration of photographs. The letter submitted on behalf of the Coalition applauds the Copyright Office’s initiative in encouraging greater participation in the registration system by photographers, but raised concerns with some of the proposed changes. Of particular concern to Guild members, the letter raised issue with the exclusion of graphic artists from the group registration option.

In drafting the changes to the group registration of photographs, the Copyright Office is seeking to encourage copyright registration among photographers, streamline the registration process, and improve the recording of works by requiring digital deposits. However, graphic artists such as designers and illustrators are excluded from this option, despite the fact that these artists create works such as comps, sketches, and revisions that are delivered to clients and are ripe for infringement. The comment letter urges the Copyright Office to “offer a group registration category to all visual works.” It also points out that many visual works are mixed media, and that limiting the registration to still photography does not address how many artists work.

The comment letter addresses a number of other concerns with the proposed rulemaking, such as the limit of 750 photographs for the group registration (problematic for photographers, who often outstrip that number in the course of a single shoot), and the separate registration requirements for published and unpublished works.

The letter was submitted to the Copyright Office by Lisa Shaftel of Shaftel & Schmeltzer on behalf of the Coalition of Visual Artists. Signees to the letter include American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Digital Media Licensing Association, Graphic Artists Guild, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, PLUS Coalition, Shaftel & Schmeltzer, and Doniger / Burroughs

“Women Who Draw” Directory Showcases Diversity in Women Illustrators

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 19, 2017

An online directory of women illustrators is attracting a lot attention, and redressing a wrong. At first glance, “Women Who Draw” simply features work by women artists. But look a little closer: through dynamic filters, visitors to the site can cross-select women illustrators by ethnicity, sexual orientation, location (every continent is represented), and faith. Registered illustrators can select as many categories as they choose, and identifiers appear underneath the thumbnails of each artist. The result is a website which celebrates diversity in all its complexity.

According to its About page, the website was founded to increase the visibility of women illustrators, particularly members of under-represented groups, such as LGTBQ and women of color. In fact, the indentifying categories do not include “white” and “straight” as selection choices, in part to encourage visitors to seek out illustrators in less visible categories. (Although the website permits users to select from a global list of locations, the ethnicities are for the most part limited to categories common to the United States.) While the site calls itself “Women Who Draw,” trans and gender-nonconforming illustrators are welcome, and the liberal use of an asterisk appearing after the words “women” and “female” reinforces the site’s inclusiveness on gender identity.

As revealed in interviews in Slate, BBC, and Huffington Post (among others), Women Who Draw was founded by Julia Rothman and Wendy McNaughton. In an interview in Vogue Magazine, Rothman related that the impetus for the site came from the realization that her favorite “prominent” magazine carried almost no illustration work by women illustrators. In an interview on the SVA blog Features (Rothman teaches at SVA), the founders elaborated:

“We noticed that a prominent U.S. magazine only hired four female illustrators out of the 55 illustrated covers they commissioned in 2015. So we created the directory to provide an easy way to find talented professional female* illustrators and promote the work of women, women of color, LBTQ+ women and other minority groups of women illustrators. This way there would be no way any publication could ever say they’d hire more artists in these groups ‘if only they could find them.’”

The website has been wildly popular; there have been very few accusations of sexism or playing gender identity politics. In fact, within the first 24 hours since it was launched, the site crashed from the overwhelming interest — over 1,200 illustrators submitted applications to be listed. To meet the demand, the site has posted a “Support” page. Donations help defray the cost of reviewing and posting applications. To join the website, illustrators must submit an illustration of a woman and provide a link to their professional website – social media sites and shopping sites such as Etsy do not qualify.

The website also builds community through public collaborations. Illustrators are invited to post work created around a common theme, and post it to social media with the tag #WWDTogether. A curated selection appears on the Women Who Draw website.

Below: The #WWDTogether Twitter feed displays the current topic.

Photography Associations Need Input on Group Registrations

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 11, 2017

Our colleagues at American Society of Media Photographers, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, and the PLUS Coalition are requesting input from professional photographers on their workflow and how they register their copyrights. The associations are responding to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) from the Copyright Office on group registrations. To formulate their response, they’ve posted a short survey (which you can fill out below, or on the SurveyMonkey website). The results will be used to inform their response to the NOPR.

If you work as a professional photographer, please take a few minutes to fill out the survey. Please ONLY respond if you work as a professional photographer. Survey results are due January 21. Please share this survey with your colleagues.

Create your own user feedback survey

Was Your Copyright Infringed Online? Copyright Alliance Survey Needs your Input

Posted by Advocacy Liaison on January 04, 2017

Copyright Alliance logoThe Copyright Office has sent out a request for additional information from stakeholders on DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) safe harbor provisions. The DMCA provides creators and copyright holders a means to request that Internet service providers remove their infringed work from websites, file sharing sites, etc. This request is part of an ongoing study that the Office is conducting. To formulate a clear response on behalf of creators, the Copyright Alliance is conducting a short online survey.

If your work has been infringed online, and you’ve responded with a DMCA take-down notice, please take the survey by February 16.

This Notice of Inquiry is the latest in a series of investigations that the Copyright Office and the House Judiciary Committee have been conducting into the DMCA process. A coalition of visual artists, of which the Guild is a member, submitted public comments to the Copyright Office’s previous Notice of Inquiry on the DMCA process in March of 2016. The Guild also testified at a Copyright Office roundtable discussion on the topic in April 2016. The Guild’s position is that the current DMCA take-down process is failing visual artists, who would be better served by a take down and stay down process, as well as by standardizing the take-down forms used by all ISPs.

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