Monday, May 16, 2011

IPA Wins Lawsuit Against Graphic Artists Guild but Artists Still Lose.

Last month's victory was welcome relief that the IPA and five named defendants have been vindicating for blowing the whistle on Graphic Artists Guild.
Artist's organizations like AMI  as well as individuals that support the formation of an American Collecting Society are openly speaking out. That this climate of fear is falling away is a tremendous victory for artists.
But even though the news that GAG's lawsuit was thrown out, until all artists begin to see their earned income returned to them, this is no victory. And until these organizations that continue to take foreign royalties are held accountable artists will never benefit from their royalties.

Decision Vindicates Artists, Validates American Illustrators' Collecting Society
Artists' Reprographic Royalties Remain Unaccounted For

(LEXINGTON, KY) May 12, 2011 - The Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) applauds Judge Debra James' ruling dismissing the million-dollar tortious interference and defamation lawsuit brought by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) against the Illustrators' Partnership of America (IPA) and five named defendants.

GAG alleged that IPA interfered with a "business relationship" which enabled GAG to collect and use artists' reprographic royalties, by IPA's creation of a collecting society to return royalties directly to artists.
When published artwork is photocopied, U.S. and international Reprographic Rights Organizations (RROs) collect royalties through fees, including photocopying charges, on behalf of copyright holders whose work appear in those publications. The American Society of Illustrators Partnership (ASIP), founded, in part, by members of the IPA, is the first and only domestic illustrators' copyright collecting society legally recognized by our federal government to collect and distribute royalties on behalf of illustrators- including medical illustrators-who assign their mandate to ASIP.

IPA's statements-that between 2000 and 2007, GAG took more than $1.5 million of artists' royalties and has not returned any to artists-were found to be true by Judge James....

Read the rest of the press release:Association of Medical Illustrators

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Graphic Artists Guild, Illustration and the Law

Last week the NY Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit against the Illustrators Partnership of America and five of us based on the fact that we spoke the truth. 

This announcement from Judge Debra James was the first time many artists learned that GAG had taken over 1.5 million in reprographics royalties without their knowledge and consent.
In the lawsuit GAG asserted claims for defamation and interference with contractual relations, alleging that IPA had interfered with a “business relationship” GAG had entered into that enabled GAG to collect orphaned reprographic royalties derived from the licensing of illustrators’ work. 

Many artists had been  afraid to speak out publicly on this issue, pointing to the fact that websites and personal blogs were used as "evidence" by GAG in their lawsuit.

 The link below is from an article on Brad Holland by Steve Heller and should be read by the artists who are upset about GAG's lawsuit and have a stake in how their royalties are being used. The question I have is what will artists do about it ?

Illustration by Brad Holland from DailyHeller blog. image for Illustration and the Law

Graphic Artists Guild and 1.5 million

Last week artists were stunned to learn that GAG received 1.5 million in foreign orphaned artists royalties and that this lawsuit was about much more than previously known. Here is the official verdict from the NY Supreme Court Judge dismissing the Graphic Artists Guild lawsuit against IPA and five individuals. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's not too late...

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

" Ahhh, were it that simple.

Returning these royalty funds to artists should be THE goal. If not the goal, then organizations receiving this money should be transparent about what money they're receiving AND how they're spending it. OTHERW
ISE, it can easily appear that this money is being used to hire lobbyists and lawyers who -in the end- are working against the long-term financial interests of the very artists who've been generating the funds.

Sounds crazy, but that's my take on it. I'd LOVE to be PROVEN wrong, but when silence and lawsuits are what results from questions being asked it just looks really bad. REALLY bad..."

This is correct it is both crazy and very wrong.

When news broke that GAG received 1.5 million in foreign money, I have read that GAG members in their local chapters who have been told they only get a few thousand a year reacted that GAG had clarified what the money is being used for in their appeal notice. No they did not.

On GAG'S WIKI page they list under "ADVOCACY" the action of suing artists who have tried to return money to artists as a proud moment in their history. I understand that the followup that shows the case being dismissed keeps being removed, so I don't know if it will be up there when people who read this check on it.

The issue is not if I believe that GAG thinks suing artists is some type of misguided advocacy. Being one of the individuals sued by GAG you can understand what I think of that nonsense. The point is that large sums of money (1.5 million) were used not to help artists but used to support Orphan Works. It was used to hire a lobbyist who supports the formation of a registry which would costs artists large sums of money to protect their work. It was used to hire lawyers to ensure these orphaned royalties remain within the organization and sue artists who told the truth with a false claim of defamation. To me this says much about GAG that is not listed on WIKI but also it says something about those GAG members who sat silently while all this was going on and still do so.

I believe, that any artist's organization that receives this money should be held accountable. These organizations have a moral responsibility to tell artists how much they received and for what it has been used for. The number one goal is not using these royalties as a private little savings account to fund actions that hurt the industry like Orphan Works but instead go to "help" artists. Instead of using the money and claiming it as a chartable donation, organizations need instead to help in the formation of a collection society to RETURN THAT WHICH BELONGS TO THEM. Their own earned income!

Imagine if any organization who has been receiving these royalties took the lead and announced they would use these orphaned royalties from ACA to help in the formation of a collection society. I wonder what would happen.

Instead of using the royalties to offset dwindling membership dues or try to protect a continued revenue stream, these people who sit on these boards need to look out for the artists they claim they represent. They need to see a dwindling industry and realize they made the wrong decision.

There is no shame in that.

These people need to ensure that those in the field who need these royalties see a return for their efforts. And if these board members refuse they need to be replaced by individuals who have artists best interests.

It is not to late to be a hero here.