Guild joins Amicus Brief in Support of Comic Creators & Artist
Posted by Rebecca Blake on August 11, 2014
On July 22, the Graphic Artists Guild joined the National Writers Union (NWU), the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in signing on to an amicus brief on behalf of the heirs of the creators of “Superman,” Siegel and Shuster, and Jack Kirby, an early Marvel Comics artist. The brief supports the rights of both families to sue DC Comics and its parent company, Warner Brothers, and Marvel, respectively, to recover the original copyrights to the work of Siegel and Shuster, and of Kirby. The families of Siegel and Shuster, and of Kirby, are seeking to have the US Supreme Court hear their appeals of two Circuit Court decisions which rejected their attempts to regain the copyrights.
Siegel and Shuster, the co-creators of the Superman series, originally signed away their rights to the character in 1938. Their heirs unsuccessfully sought to terminate DC Comic's copyrights to the work by issuing statutory notices of termination in 1997 and 2002. In 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court stripped Shuster's heirs of termination rights, a ruling that according to NWU ignores the Supreme Court's opinion in the landmark case NY Times v Tasini (2001), which ruled that termination rights are inalienable. Kirby's heirs sought to terminate Marvel’s copyrights to his artwork, a move which Marvel countered in 2010 by suing the Kirby family for declaratory relief that Kirby's work fell under the work for hire exception to the Copyright Act. The judge hearing the case ruled in favor of Marvel, and the ruling was affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013.
While the Supreme Court has not yet stated that the petition will be reviewed, indications are good. Marvel initially refused to respond to the petition, but was asked by the justices on May 14 to file a response. The petition has been distributed to the justices for conference on September 29. A ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of the heirs to Siegel, Shuster, and Kirby would have wide implications on the interpretation of the copyrights of independent contractors and creators.
For clarification on “all rights,” “termination of rights,” and “work for hire,” visit our Contract Glossary.
Guild Member Ed Shems Testifies on Copyrights and First Sale
Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 17, 2014
Guild member Ed Shems represented the Graphic Artists Guild, the Copyright Alliance, and concerns of individual artists at a hearing in front of House Judiciary Committee members on June 2. Shems spoke on the impact proposed changes to copyright law regarding the first sale doctrine could have on artists. The proposed changes would expand the doctrine of first sale, permitting licensed digital materials to be resold by the purchaser.
In the past, the doctrine of first sale has had little relevance to artists, who have been able to control the copyrights to their work through licensing agreements. The doctrine permitted the reselling of tangible materials, such as books or CDs, but had no impact on licensed creations. The proposed changes to the first sale doctrine would permit digital materials to be resold as if they were tangible goods. As Shems testified, "There is no such thing as a ‘used book’ in the digital world.... every digital book sold under the first sale doctrine would compete directly with my client's sales – this means my clients will have fewer sales, and fewer resources to devote to illustrate or design their works. As a result I would have fewer clients and we might see a decline in the industry in which I make my living."
Additionally, Shems noted that the proposed changes would make it difficult to police infringement of his artwork: "As a creative professional and small business owner, I am able to choose which clients I will work with. Under an extension of the first sale doctrine, where copies of my work could be digitally sold to others I don't know or work with, that right would be taken away from me." Finally, Shems pointed out that the expansion of the first sale doctrine to cover licensed-based transactions would force creators to raise their fees to cover all rights to their work, rather than negotiate limited rights tailored for each client's needs and budget, and would create a de facto work-for-hire arrangement.
Shems’ full remarks to House Judiciary members can be read here. Shems will also take part in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) roundtable on First Sale Doctrine on June 25 at Harvard University in Boston. The USPTO has scheduled a series of roundtables and discussions on copyright and intellectual property issues throughout the summer. The full schedule of talks has been posted on our website. The general public can attend the events in person or via webcast.
Below: Ed Shems, Guild Advocacy Chair Lisa Shaftel, and Sandra Aistars from the Copyright Alliance after testifying. Used with permission.
oozled: Web Designers, Delete Your Bookmarks
Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 09, 2014
Launched just this month, oozled is a web developer’s dream: a web app which provides a steady stream of curated resources from accessibility through wireframing. Many of the resource categories are related directly to coding and production, such as mockup tools, HTML 5, responsive web design tools, and prototyping. Several other categories list resources to help web designers run their businesses (accountancy, legal), build their skills (online tuition, books, podcasts), add to their webtools (payment solutions, email marketing), and replenish their creativity (inspiration, colour – the app developers are from the UK). There’s even an alluring “Just Handy” feed, with eclectic resources such as goofy ipsums, Screen Sizes (an updated list of cross-device screen sizes), and JustDelete.Me (a how-to on deleting your account from web services).
oozled got its start when web/interface designer Dan Edwards compiled a list of his personal resources as a guide for local college students. He published the list on the blogging platform Medium, and invited readers were to contribute recommendations. Within a few months, over 200 resources had been added. Edwards teamed up with developer Ryan Taylor, and in May 2014, the beta version of oozled was launched.
Anyone can access the full list of resources, and a “The Latest 50” category directs visitors to the most recent additions. However, subscribing to oozled is free, and enables the user to subscribe to specific resource feeds, as well as submit their own favorite resources. oozled is currently in beta, but Edwards and Taylor have plans for the app, and promise that subscribers will have first access to any new features.
Below: a small selection of the resource categories. Used with permission.
Make It Take It Campaign Addresses Packaging Waste
Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 04, 2014
As reported by Jennifer Elks of Sustainable Brands and covered on The Living Principles, a coalition of organizations devoted to addressing waste and recycling issues launched the Make It, Take It Campaign on April 30. The campaign attempts to pressure consumer goods companies into taking responsibility for the packaging waste generated by their goods. The campaign’s goal is three-fold: to pressure companies to change their package design to safe, sustainable materials; to make brands responsible for ensuring packaging is reused, recycled, or composted; and to educate the public on packaging issues and engage them in action.
The campaign’s first target for action is the Capri Sun juice pouch. The pouch is a huge source of litter since it can’t be recycled — its created from a laminate of aluminum and plastic. The public is asked to refuse single-use disposable packaging, and petition KRAFT, the manufacturer of Capri Sun juice pouches, to stop producing such unrecyclable packaging waste. Make It Take It also lists solutions to the packaging waste problem, from utilizing sustainable materials, to redesigning packaging to minimize the amount of material used.
Make It Take It is coordinated by UPSTREAM, a national environmental organization, partnered by eight other organizations: Green America, Texas Campaign for the Environment, 5 Gyres, Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance, Clean Water Action, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Eureka Recycling. Make It Take It is publicing advances in their campaign via their Twitter feed and Facebook Page.
For more information on design and sustainability, we recommend the following resources:
Below: Make It Take It’s campaign against the Capri Sun juice pouches. Used with permission.
Remembering Massimo: SEGD Pays Tribute
Posted by Rebecca Blake on May 29, 2014
Iconic designer Massimo Vignelli passed away May 27, leaving behind a tremendous legacy of work, from the original branding for American Airlines, to brochures for the National Park Service, to stacking dishware. A hallmark of his aesthetic was an adherence to simplicity and clarity, most notably expressed in his groundbreaking work in redesigning the map and signage for the New York City transit system.
SEGD, the multi-disciplinary organization of environmental designers, has long recognized Vignelli’s impact on the discipline. In 2001, he was named an SEGD Fellow. Upon hearing of his passing, the organization posted an eloquent tribute titled “You Can Design Everything.” In it, they state that Vignelli’s “modernist sensibility lent new clarity to signage and information in public spaces... he stamped all of his work – from his controversial New York City subway map to books and corporate identities and even church pews – with signature clarity, simplicity, and rigor.”
The organization included tributes to Vignelli from SEGD Fellows and his peers in the environmental graphic design community. The memories paint a picture of a visionary who had an impact on the way ordinary people manage their commute, a passionate speaker who balanced eloquence with a delicous sense of humor, and a generous, enthusiastic colleague and mentor.
Top right: Massimo Vignelli at an SEGD conference. Used with permission.Next Page
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