The appearance of a cartoon in a newspaper or upon a website usually produces a frisson of joy for the cartoonist who made it – unless it has appeared without their permission.
The American cartoonist Stephanie Piro, who had this unfortunate experience recently, told The Bloghorn what happened – and more importantly what to do about it should it happen to you:
A couple of months ago a cartoonist colleague, emailed me to ask if the Guardian news website was a client of mine as she recognised my work there. I told her they weren’t and then followed the link she provided.
Over the years I have had several major instances of my work being used without my permission. As my website rates for a single image are reasonable, I was surprised someplace as established as The Guardian would use an image without first contacting the artist and paying for it.
I eventually succeeded in contacting The Guardian through its Readers’ Editor and sent an invoice. After more prompting, I finally heard from a woman who was in charge of the books site on the Guardian site who blamed a third-party organisation and apologised.
This was unacceptable to me. When I threatened to spread the word to the NCS (the US National Cartoonists’ Society), the PCO (the UK Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation) and all the professional cartooning boards I belong to … then they responded to my invoice.
This was more meaningful than a simple apology.
The Bloghorn commends this excellent example of how you should look after your work. We also credit The Guardian and their contracted third-party agency for reacting to Stephanie’s messages and by eventually promising to pay for the use of her work over the previous nine months.
If you have anything helpful to add about the best way to manage your business interests please add it to the comments below. If you are a UK-based professional cartoonist you may also want to consider applying to join the PCO.