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Copyright and Creators: Addressing Anti-Copyright Sentiments

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 30, 2015

John DegenJohn Degen, novelist and Executive Director of The Writers Union of Canada, recently engaged in a back-and-forth of the value of copyrights to creators. The discussion was precipitated by a question Degen had been asked on developments in Canadian copyright law. As described on The Writing Platform, “In Canada, a small tweak to copyright legislation resulted in a large loss of income for many writers when the principle of ‘fair dealing’ was extended to include education and interpreted by educational institutions to mean unlimited copying of relatively large portions of works.’ Degen summarized the importance of copyright to creative professionals as, “If you create it, you own it. If someone wants to use what you own, there needs to be a discussion.” He later elaborated on his point in a series of tweets, including one that compared an attack on copyright as a land grab.

This lead to a response from an academic in Finland, who asked whether copyright, as other legal concepts, should “develop and evolve” – a point of view that Degen describes as, “I'm not attacking your rights; I'm merely questioning whether or not they actually need to exist.” In the resulting Twitter exchange, Degen referenced the change in “fair dealing,” describing how a push by academics in Canada led to the elimination of collective licensing of written works for education, and resulting in a loss of income for writers. In the meantime, the price of the educational materials and tuition – ostensibly the reason for the law change – continued to rise. The result, Degen wrote, was “an attack on workers’ rights, creative livelihoods, on academic freedom, on students.”

Degen’s full article can be read on his blog.

Photo of John Degen used with permission.

Keep Your Art Director Happy: 10 Mistakes Illustrators Make

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 24, 2015

Guiseppe CastellanoArt director Giuseppe Castellano has compiled a list of 10 common mistakes illustrators make in delivering their artwork. The advice covers basic errors in file delivery that are guaranteed to sour a working relationship. Much of the advice covers basics, such as file type, color space, specs, and cropping. However, Castellano also provides insight into what makes art directors sing when he asks illustrators to push beyond the obvious in selecting their color palette, and in considering composition and point of view.

His strongest advice is to avoid springing nasty surprises on the client – by producing something unexpected, being late, or being unprofessional. He reminds that art directors have a hierarchy to answer to, and often have the training and experience to work with illustrators who are struggling with an assignment. Castellano encourages illustrators to keep their art directors abreast of any difficulties they’re having with meeting the terms of an assignment: “As long as you stay communicative, you and your client can work through any issue together.”

Guild Joins Organizations in Protesting the “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use”

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 16, 2015

CAA logoThe Graphic Artists Guild, together with National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), PACA Digital Media Licensing Association, and Professional Photographers of America (PPA), has published a letter addressing concerns with the College Art Association’s “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.”

Specifically, the letter contests a major conclusion of the study, that “copyright acts primarily as a barrier, encouraging self-censorship; and that artists are in an adversarial relationship with the marketplace.” The letter points out that artists only seek fair compensation to their work, and that the study fails to educate its audience on options for licensing work. The letter also notes that the study fails to address commercial applications of fair use made by museums and non-profits in the creation of objects and coffee table books for sale. Lastly, the letter expresses the dismay of the organizations that none were invited to particpate in the study groups leading up to the creation of the Code.

Some of the weaknesses identifed in the study, including incorrect assumptions of industry practices, misplaced recommendations, and the inclusion of personal opinion as factual information. The letter concludes that “Without participation from all of the stakeholders in the visual arts community there can be no consensus, let alone a set of “Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts.” As developed, rather than “providing a practical and reliable way of applying” copyright law and fair use, the document creates far more misconceptions than it resolves and encourages misappropriation of copyrighted work rather than the practice of due diligence and licensing.”

The full text of the letter can be read here.

Guild Joins CreativeFuture Coalition to Address Piracy

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 12, 2015

Creative Future logoThe Graphic Artists Guild has joined CreativeFuture, a coalition of over 350 companies and organizations that seeks to address piracy. The coalition has three primary initiatives: mobilizing the creative community to speak up about the harm caused by piracy; advocating for policies which will staunch the flow of funds to pirate site operators; and educating youth about the cultural, ethical, and economic value of creative ownership. CreativeFuture is spreading its message via social media using the hashtags #RespectCreativity and #PiracyIsNotFreeSpeech.

Other coalition partners include major film studios and broadcast companies, as well as small, independent filmmakers, film festivals, professional associations, and IATSE International. The Executive Team at Creative Future includes Executive Director Ruth Vitale, formerly of Paramount Classics and Fine Line Features, and Director of Communications Chris Ortman, formerly appointed by Barack Obama to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Individual creators and organizations are encouraged to join Creative Future in taking action.

Below: A video produced by CreativeFuture describes value of creative works to the US economy, and how the for-profit black market in pirated goods undermines it. The organization has published a variety of educational materials on their website.

Speech on Type: Typography Podcasts by Typeradio

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 10, 2015

Typeradio LogoNow in its eighth year of netcasting, Typeradio is an internet radio stream with a wealth of material. The website offers a truly global view of typography, with in-depth interviews conducted at studios, offices, and conferences from around Europe, the United States, India, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition to the interviews, Typeradio features a few delightfully cheesy music selections from type conferences (such as “CMYK” sung to the tune of “YMCA”). Other oddball offerings are the “One Minute of Type” workshops, in which students were asked to translate a typeface to one minute of sound. That project was further developed into Chinese Whispers, in which a second generation of students took the sound recordings and translated them back to typefaces, often with surprising results.

The real value of Typeradio lies in the range of interview guests. The podcasts are not just limited to prominent designers, such as Marian Bantjes, Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, and Michael Beirut. Lesser known, but equally fascinating, professionals from a variety of backgrounds provide insights into their inspirations, work habits, and belief systems. Many of the interviews begin with a rather intrusive question – often “Are you religious?” – and evolve into comprehensive discussions. (For example, Michael Beirut reveals that, driven by his OCD tendencies, he feels compelled to post his Design Observer blog posts with time stamps only ending in a “5” – 11:45, 1:15, etc.)

Since the podcasts have been collected over several years – Typeradio was founded in 2005 by Donald Beekman of Dutch design firm DBXL, designer Liza Enebeis, and type studio Underware – the list of podcasts is dauntingly long. Fortunately, visitors can sort the offerings by guest speaker, date, type of podcast, and location, or search for relevant interviews by keyword. (The search feature is somewhat buggy; typing a partial word seems to yield better search results.) Typeradio continues to broadcast—their most recent interview dates back to early March – and asks that supporters donate a small fee to support their work.

Below: clicking onto one of Typeradio’s podcasts triggers a dropdown menu with information about the interviewee and relevant links.

Typeradio screenshot

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