Our man Rob Murray attended a recent talk by Silvia Baumgart of Own-it, based at the University of the Arts London (UAL). Own-it advises creative practitioners and small businesses on intellectual property matters.
Over to Rob:
The session focused in particular on copyright and the increasing need for artists and illustrators to protect their work in the online era.
Listed here are ten key facts about copyright that might either be news to you, or a useful refresher.
Copyright is automatic – it does not need to be applied for or registered – and protects a creative work until 70 years after the creator’s year of death.
You cannot copyright an idea – only the way in which that idea is expressed.
Moral rights, which come with copyright and give the creator the right to be credited as the author of a work, cannot be assigned to another party. But the creator can waive moral rights in writing. If assigning (selling) copyright to someone else, a creator should assert their moral rights.
If a magazine “buys” a cartoon to appear in its pages, unless otherwise stated in writing it is buying a licence to be the first to publish it. This does not prevent the cartoonist selling the cartoon elsewhere at a later date, or using it for any other purpose.
When a freelancer is commissioned to produce a cartoon or illustration, he or she automatically holds the copyright unless otherwise agreed in writing.
By contrast, if work is created during the course of your employment, your employer holds the copyright and you have no moral rights over the work.
Design work is treated differently, and falls under design right rather than copyright. When a designer is commissioned to develop or create a product, the commissioner owns the unregistered design right in the UK — which protects the appearance of the product (excluding surface decoration) for 15 years from creation or ten years from first sale. As with copyright, it is automatic.
An image being easily accessible — for example on the internet — is often taken to mean that it is in the public domain, but this is often not the case, even when the creator’s name is missing. An artwork is only “public domain” if the creator (or copyright holder) has declared so, or if the copyright has expired.
Selling a physical object you have created (for example, the original artwork for a cartoon) does not mean you are permitting reproduction or dissemination. Unless formally agreed, the buyer does not have the right to reproduce or distribute the image (with the exception of advertising the resale of the artwork).
As a general rule, the decision to assign all rights to a client should not be taken lightly, and the creator should agree a substantially larger fee than they would for granting a licence. Once intellectual property rights are sold, they cannot be taken back and the creator will never again be able to profit from licensing that piece of work.
Own-it offers free legal advice to help artists solve intellectual property issues. Visit the blog again soon for a look at some of Silvia’s recommendations for how to protect your work online and elsewhere.
Procartoonists member Clive Goddard is helping comic Miranda Hartwith her Comic Relief challenges this week. He will be drawing each of her tasks in turn and we will feature some below over the course of the week.
You can of course also follow the course of events by following the #mirandasmarch hashtag.
Clive Goddard Miranda Hart cartoons at Procartoonists.org
Updated 12th March: You can see Clive’s first cartoon about Miranda and the underarm waxing here.
Updated 15th March: An exclusive! The sneak preview of Miranda’s marriage for Day Five of #mirandasmarch. Hats tipped to our best man Clive Goddard .
Above: an animation by Procartoonists.org member Paul Baker, commissioned for (and projected at) the launch of the new InterContinental London Westminster hotel. Inspired by its location, the hotel is politically themed and features a gallery of cartoons by Gerald Scarfe alongside other political caricatures.
Fellow PCO member Ian Baker is one of a number of international cartoonists who have contributed artwork to a new book about 007. Ian has also written a foreword for James Bond: 50 Years in Caricatures. The book is seeking crowd-funded contributions in order to be released in special-edition hardcover format. Click here to look inside the book and pledge your support.
Finally, cartoonist and illustrator Stephen Collins has produced a series of designs for the Time to Change campaign to end mental health discrimination. Some of the work can be seen here, and several of his designs can be sent as e-cards by clicking here. Collins comments on the campaign here.
We will be publishing details of the itinerary over the next few weeks ahead of the festival’s first events. The main weekend for the live cartooning and other public events is 19-21 April. Get it into your diaries!
Jamie Smart has plans for a new children’s comic, initially to be made available online for free, in which all characters will be creator-owned. He is on the lookout for cartoonists to join his Moose Kid Comics project – for which he hopes to attract investors and subsequently launch in print form. Read more and find out how to get involved here.
The third annual Success in Comics seminar was held at the weekend in Maryland in the US. Despite the name, it covers all areas of cartooning and cartoon illustration and focuses on how freelancers can make their business grow.
Finally, some news of contests and awards. The BBC has launched a competition asking illustrators, photographers and film-makers to share their visions of the future. Meanwhile, the nomination process has now opened for the 2013 British Comic Awards.
Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed here is that of the named individual and not that of the UK Professional Cartoonists' Organisation unless explicitly stated. Artwork attributed to a named author or publication on this diary should be noted by anyone linking to us from any other site. Thank you. If you wish to reproduce an image please contact the artist from here.