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Ten things you might not know

about copyright

March 12, 2013 in General, News

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.

  1. 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.
  2. You cannot copyright an idea – only the way in which that idea is expressed.

    © Rob Murray @ Procartoonists.org

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

    Matthew_Buck_Hack_Copyright_ARTWORK @ procartoonists.org

    © Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons @ Procartoonists.org

  5. When a freelancer is commissioned to produce a cartoon or illustration, he or she automatically holds the copyright unless otherwise agreed in writing.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

    Ideas cartoon by Royston Robertson

    © Royston Robertson @ Procartoonists.org

  8. 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.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

Foggy and the new rock n’ roll

September 27, 2012 in Comment, General

Foghorn September 22 @ procartoonists.org

© Andy Davey @ procartoonists.org

Bloghornery – June 2010

June 30, 2010 in Comment

Foghorn Bloghorn for The UK Professional Cartoonists’ OrganisationThings the Foghorn saw this month…

Profile photo of Royston

by Royston

Frequently answered questions

September 25, 2008 in General

“I have a great idea for a cartoon! Want to hear it?”
“No.”

… US political cartoonist Daryl Cagle takes on the questions that people always ask cartoonists. Some of it is very specific to Cagle’s site, but much of it is universal and very funny. Here’s another favourite:

“When are you going to stop bashing President Bush?”
“Be patient. It won’t be long.”

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Mike Lynch for spotting this one.

The PCO: British cartoon talent

Teaching cartooning in Japan

February 6, 2008 in General

Martin Honeysett spent two years in Japan teaching cartoon drawing at a university. He talks about his experiences here.


One of PCO member Martin Honeysett’s cartoons from his time in Japan

How do you teach cartooning? All the cartoonists I know are self taught, although some may have done an arts course at some time. I can see how you can teach the elements of drawing but is it possible to teach the elements of satire and humour, the creation of ideas?

These were some of the many thoughts that buzzed round my head prior to and during the long flight to Kyoto, Japan, in late March 2005. I was due to become the first visiting professor at the Kyoto Seika University Cartoon Faculty. I was excited and somewhat nervous, not really knowing what to expect or what was expected of me.

I first visited Japan 20 years ago as one of a group of English and French cartoonists. A sort of cultural exchange organised by James Taylor, a publisher and cartoon enthusiast who’d managed to squeeze some funding from the Japan Foundation. The English element apart from James Taylor, consisted of Bill Tidy, Clive Collins, Roy Raymonde, Michael Ffolkes and myself.

The French contingent included Avoine, Bridenne, Nicoulard and Mose, the patriach of French cartooning, It was a great trip, two weeks of non-stop meetings, sightseeing and entertainment supplemented with warm and generous Japanese hospitality. Most of the time was spent in Tokyo but we also spent a few days in historic Kyoto, once the Capital. Professor Yasuo Yoshitomo who inaugurated and runs the cartoon department at Seika had invited us there.

The English contingent at least, was somewhat sceptical about the idea of a university teaching how to draw cartoons. I remember Bill Tidy, forthright as ever, standing up during a question and answer session holding a sheet of paper. “What you should do,” he said, “Is write down all the theories and teaching about cartooning and then …” He crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it to the floor. Fortunately perhaps, the Japanese staff and students, looking on in bafflement, had no idea what he was on about.

I always hoped that I might return at some stage but thought less and less about it as the time passed. I heard later that Mose and Roy Raymond were regularly invited out for the bi-annual exhibition and I kept in contact by entering works for it and winning the occasional award.


One of PCO member Martin Honeysett’s drawings from his time in Japan

Then in 2002, out of the blue, I received an invitation to visit Kyoto for the exhibition. Not for the first time I was stepping into dead man’s shoes, for sadly, Mose had died.

I flew out with Roy and we joined another two cartoonists. Ponnappa from India and Pere from Spain. It was during this trip that I was asked if I would be interested in the idea of being a visiting professor. I said I was very interested but was cautioned that this was a tentative enquiry and in that Japan these things take some time to be decided.

So I returned home trying not to be too excited, looking forward to some sort of confirmation to arrive. It never did, so after a while I thought they’d given up on the idea . Then, two years later, I was again invited out for the exhibition and again asked if I’d be interested. I replied in the affirmative and this time it was confirmed.

For more, see issue 31 of The Foghorn.

British cartoon talent