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The Round-up

January 13, 2014 in General, Links, News

Robert Crumb cartoon
Kasia Kowalska writes:

It’s clearly not an impossible task to pick your all-time favourite cartoons but Bob Mankoff of The New Yorker has had a go at the advanced level of difficulty.

You can see some of our members tried it once too with Ten Great Cartoonists.

Elsewhere, the admirable Joe Gordon takes on the might of the BBC to get to the bottom of why Leo Baxendale’s name was omitted from a news piece about his famous creation Minnie the Minx.

The January sales are well under way and the Chris Beetles Gallery 2014 sale is now on. Artwork up for grabs includes cartoons by several members, including Noel Ford, John Jensen, Nick Newman, Royston Robertson, Ralph Steadman. Bill Stott, Kipper Williams and Mike Williams.

Not be outshone by the boys is Kathryn Lamb, another member currently exhibiting original cartoons, who returns to her Alma Mater with the Lamb’s Tales show, opening on 18 January.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 15.14.31

‘Excuse me, Gentlemen – how would you rate your merriment levels’? © KJ Lamb@

A batch of Carl Giles artwork and memorabilia is expected for sale in February and will include contributions from family and friends of the Ipswich cartoonist. This follows the October auction of last year.

Hollywood enfant terrible Shia LaBeouf just cannot stop getting into trouble over allegations of plagiarism, only this time by using other people’s words to justify it. Meanwhile, the cartoonist Jamie Smart used Twitter to poke fun at LaBeouf.

And if protecting your reputation and authorship is important to you, make a note of this date in your diary: 5 February. This is the deadline for the public consultation on EU copyright legislation reforms, which aim to address the impact of digital media on users and authors.


Copyright and coffee

June 17, 2013 in Comment, General

Courtesy of one of our members, Chris Madden:

© Chris Madden


The Round-up

May 4, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News


Frank Sidebottom holds a copy of Oink!

A new documentary is being planned about anarchic TV icon Frank Sidebottom (aka Chris Sievey). In the guise of Frank, Sievey contributed strips to Oink! in the late 1980s. Director Steve Sullivan says the film “will cover Chris and Frank’s whole career, including focusing on his work as a comic creator and illustrator.” Sullivan has turned to crowd-funding to kick-start the project, and raised over £11,000 from Frank fans in his first day of fundraising. Read more about the project here.

The documentary is not to be confused with this fictionalised take on the Sidebottom legend, which will star Michael Fassbender. member Ralph Steadman was sadly too unwell to attend the private view of his Steadman @ 77 retrospective at the Cartoon Museum in London this week. But the exhibition has already been receiving good press, including this piece from the Camden New Journal. The paper also reports on the theft of a Steadman original from a nearby pub following the private view.

Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the new British legislation that may change the way images are used on the internet, particularly when it comes to orphan works. Every cartoonist – or user of online materials – should brush up on this. For more on copyright law, and advice on how to protect your work online, look back at our previous posts on the subject here and here.

The Brighton Festival begins this weekend, and Harry Venning isn’t the only cartoonist opening up his studio to the public. PCOer Guy Venables and Private Eye/Independent cartoonist Grizelda will also be inviting visitors into their workspaces. Find out more about the festival here. The Spectator also has coverage of the Artists Open Houses.

For those who like lists, Buzzfeed has produced this handy run-down of historic cartoons that changed the world.

And finally, some encouraging signs from the next generation: Dutch teenagers have been clamouring for political cartoons in 7Days, a weekly newspaper for young people in the Netherlands. The editorial team have listened, and topical cartoons are now appearing courtesy of Cartoon Movement.


How to protect your work in public

March 20, 2013 in General, News

Following on from our recent post about copyright, heres some straightforward advice from Silvia Baumgart, Programme Manager at Own-it, about how a cartoonist (or any other kind of artist) can protect their work online and elsewhere:

  • Sadly, it is practically impossible to ensure that work appearing on the internet is not being downloaded, copied or amended without permission. Own-it strongly recommends that any images of your work are uploaded at low resolution (typically 72 dpi) and watermarked, both of which will make it harder for someone to misappropriate your work.
  • All watermarks should include the copyright symbol (©), your name, and ideally the date of creation or date of first publication.
  • Another option – when emailing images to potential clients – is to use Creative Barcode, a service that protects your images and requires a client to click through and agree to terms of use before they can even see your work.
  • If you’re happy for your work to be used by others in limited circumstances, you can use Creative Commons licences. This non-profit service enables creative work to be shared, with the copyright holder deciding how it is used and for what purpose.
  • Silvia describes Creative Commons as a legally simple and flexible licensing system, but also sounds a note of caution. Disadvantages can include the fact that the licences it grants are perpetual and irrevocable (so you cannot change your mind at a later date). If you allow other users to make “derivatives” of your work, you have no control over the extent to which they modify it, and there is also a grey area when it comes to what is classed as commercial or non-commercial use. Find out more before making a decision.
  • Social-networking sites have created another potential minefield for artists. Twitter, Facebook and the rest all have their own particular terms and conditions, but in general, by sharing your work on these sites you indemnify all service providers against any claims brought against them by third parties in relation to the content you post.
  • When it comes to social networks, Own-it recommends that you only post your own work, unless you have permission from the copyright holder. If you don’t have permission but are confident that you are sharing the work in order to promote it, you should always credit the author, with a link to their website, and ideally let them know you have posted it.
  • If pitching for a job and sharing your designs with a potential client, Silvia recommends that you ask the client to sign a non-disclosure agreement in advance, use Creative Barcode (as above), or send an email ahead to say that anything discussed or shared will be treated as confidential.
  • Copyright also gives a cartoonist or illustrator the moral right to object to a publisher cropping or editing their images. In reality this is rarely done for fear of losing repeat business – but it is important to note that, in principle, the copyright holder has the right to expect their work to be used as originally supplied.

Own-it provides free legal advice to help artists solve intellectual property issues. Our thanks to Silvia for allowing us to share some of her advice on the blog.


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 @

  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 @

    © Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons @

  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 @

  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.

Copyright with laughs

November 7, 2012 in Comment, General, Links

This was spotted by member Tim Harries. It features on the Paper Wings Podcast, which says:

This video is a real world, straight-shootin’ explanation of copyright law given at San Diego Comic Con earlier this year. Josh Wattles is the adviser-in-chief to deviantART and is a funny lawyer (imagine that) who describes the nature of fandom candidly – both its benefits to the copyright holder and the problems.

A look at the notoriously tricky subject of copyright law with laughs? Sounds good to us. Read more on this here.

From Gin Lane to the Information Superhighway…

August 28, 2012 in Comment, General

Cartooning and copyright have a long history together.

Cartoons and copyright © Chris Madden

© Chris Madden

The very first visual copyright law – The Engravers’ Copyright Act of 1734 – was prompted by artist and engraver William Hogarth and his battles with unscrupulous printmakers who made unlicensed copies of his work. Of course, the surplus of supply made his originals, or any licensed prints of them less valuable to him in the marketplace. Cartoonists, singular creatures by nature, are of course also business folk

John Wilkes by William Hogarth @procartoonists

John Wilkes by William Hogarth @procartoonists

Today, while the commercial relationship between copyright and cartooning remains the same, the issues around it seem ever more complicated. Principally because the internet has made it easy to copy and distribute images instantly.

Contemporary cartoonists have tended to protect their work by publishing only small, low resolution versions of  images that would be unsuitable for subsequent printing.

But as the demand for print reproduction itself declines and technology moves on, cartoons will instead be viewed on larger, higher-resolution devices, monitors and retina displays.

These may come to render small images unreadable and blurry perhaps forcing those using digital distribution to load artwork at higher quality resolutions.

Taken in combination with the larger file sizes allowed by broadband download speeds it may soon be hard to protect the use of what used to be known as ‘print resolution artwork’.

There is some evidence to this assertion in a story we noted recently. Read – Does my cartoon look big in this?

So, what should a cartoonist do? Watch this space in the coming weeks.


Does my cartoon look big in this?

July 13, 2012 in General, News

If a cartoon is visual communication, legibility is key to every image that needs to use words. But technology can be disruptive, of course. And so, to The Guardian website for some proof:

Cartoon: Digital display of cartoon clip

Digital display of cartoon clip at The Guardian. Screengrab image is at 1:1

Reader reaction: I need a bigger cartoon for legibility

In a similar vein: What’s the point in employing a great cartoonist … ?

Reader reaction: Leave the cartoon off the digital version of the paper

Cartoonist responds: In detail

Why is this happening?

When the internet was young, pictures used to be displayed in very small shapes. This was usually to keep bandwidth demands low so that your dial-up modem could cope. You could compare this technique to the great expense of paper at the start of the age of print.

Now, the bandwidth that enables digital communication is much bigger, with broadband, and picture sizes have grown as a result. And not just in the physical dimensions of width and height. This also applies to the amount, or weight, if you prefer, of information inside each image you see. This applies to image display on the web, on your mobile phone or perhaps now on your tablet PC.

Detail, commonly stored as picture resolution, or dots (of data) per inch has increased massively and this potentially allows download of print quality imagery direct from the web. Of course, this is both a marvellous opportunity (Big cartoons, yay!) and a problem (Easier to nick, boo!)

Cartoonists might think about their own behaviour, if they distribute images by web, by noting how each third-party provider they use deals with image resolution. Of course, the simplest way to do this is to manage the resolution at the traditional 72 dots per inch before you supply to any other production house.

Downloading of artwork is an old problem that we have written about before. There are tools you can use to control unbidden usage of your work. And we have a short series of posts on some of these tools coming up.

If you enjoy what we do here, please consider subscribing to our email updates on the right-hand side of this page.

Free copyright seminar

February 10, 2012 in Comment

Our friends at the Creators’ Rights Alliance and Consumer Focus are holding a joint seminar on copyright for artists and illustrators to which Bloghorn would like to bring to your attention. It is being held at The Free Word Centre in central London on Tuesday 21st February from 10-5.30pm.

You can download the full PDF details here.

A poke in the i

January 25, 2012 in Comment

You may have seen the above in this week’s edition of Private Eye, in the Street of Shame column, which focuses on the misdeeds of British newspapers.

When “Cartoonist Idol” was launched, there was much discussion behind the scenes at the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (Shurely shome correction – Ed) on our members’ forum.

There was a great deal of scepticism, as professional cartoonists have all seen this kind of attempt to get work using competitions before. What we did not see, however, were any terms and conditions for the promised employment. Until we knew the outcome of the contest we gave the i the benefit of the doubt. Many professionals, members of the PCO and otherwise, decided to give it a shot.

Here on the Bloghorn, where we try to be positive about cartooning rather than negative (difficult though that can sometimes be) we reported the shortlisted cartoonists, noting that many were PCO members.

Once the winning PCO members told us what they had been offered, however, we wrote to the i and that led to a conversation with the paper. The conversation was amicable, but the i wasn’t budging.

While we expected that the money offered would be poor, the PCO could not accept the demands made on copyright and exclusivity. We approached Private Eye as we thought they would find it an interesting, if depressing, story. They agreed and we hope you do too.