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The Round-up

May 10, 2013 in Events, General, Links, News

© Christian Adams for The Telegraph

The Premier League was rocked this week by the unexpected news of Sir Alex Ferguson‘s retirement, and cartoonists had a ball with it (sorry). In The Telegraph, Christian Adams put the news in context (above), while Matt Pritchett drew parallels with another recent shock resignation. Over in The Guardian, Kipper Williams considered the impact on industry. On the news that David Moyes is taking the reins, member Andy Davey pictures the handover in The Sun.

Rob Murray (full disclosure: the writer of this post!) will be opening up his studio to the public from 16-19 May, exhibiting and selling original cartoons from Private Eye, Reader’s Digest, The Spectator and elsewhere as part of the Summer Open Studios show at Wimbledon Art Studios. Entry is free and all are very welcome.

Stephen Collins celebrates the publication of his new book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, with a launch party this evening at Gosh! in London. See preview pages in the ‘Big Comics’ section of his website.

Own-it offers a helpful and concise look at the ongoing controversial changes to UK copyright legislation, which pave the way for licensing of orphan works. Read it here.

An obituary for Margaret Groening reveals that her son – Simpsons creator Matt – believes in writing about what (or who) he knows. The Telegraph picks up on the story and provides this handy interactive family tree.

And finally, having recently challenged New Yorker cartoonists to a reverse-engineered caption contest, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff invites readers to have a go.


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.