Wage Fixing in Animation

The Case of Wage Fixing in the Animation Industry and its Implications Introduction by the Needy Animator Personally, this topic has been of big interest to me as an artist, especially with how the outcome of this case could really determine the standards of the animation industry and how artists are treated. As we dig deeper into the Antitrust Law case and wage fixing in animation, entertainment lawyer Lee Morin sheds light into the hot topic of the ongoing case with insights to how this could affect the direction of the animation industry. While this series might be longer than most, it is very relevant that we as artist follow closely as a community. I believe that it is important to foster awareness and self protection for our industry as a whole so that the career path of an artist is a livable one where we can be passionate about what we do without sacrificing our livelihoods. We are most grateful to Lee for putting so much time and energy to do this in-depth research for us! Because of the length of this article and content that might be hard to digest, this article has been divided into 4 sections with leading key point for each.   In re Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation by Lee Morin, Esq.   SECTION 1: OVERVIEW OF THE ANTITRUST LAW CASE Antitrust Law has shaped the entertainment industries since the 1940s. It is the reason why performance rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI do not collect royalties from United States theaters(1)Alden–Rochelle, Inc. v. ASCAP, 80 F.Supp. 888, 894–96 (S.D.N.Y. 1948). on behalf of songwriters and publishers, and why...
Copyright for the Freelance Artist, Pt. 4, a Case study of MomoCon

Copyright for the Freelance Artist, Pt. 4, a Case study of MomoCon

by Lee Morin, Esq. Articles related to Copyright for the Freelance Artist series may be found here: Part 1: Copyright Basics (The 101) Part 2: 3 Types of Employment Agreements Part 3: Copyright Infringement and Defenses    In Copyright for the Freelance Artist Pts. 2 and 3, we discussed copyright for freelance artists in the context of employment; however, we will now return to where we started with a discussion on the role that fans play in the world of animation.  Frequently, fans of animation, or manga, grow up to pursue careers as freelance artists.   My cousin graduates from SCAD this year with a degree in visual effects. When she was a kid, she collected manga and learned Japanese. She is an example of a fan, who became a career participant. I would like to dedicate this final chapter to my cousin, Nicole Rager.   To Skip to Specific Sections of this Article: Introduction Cosplay Anime Music Video Doujinshi/ Fan Art/ Fan Sub How to Copyright Fanworks   Introduction The first time I met Christopher Stuckey, Co-Chair of MomoCon, was at Mashable’s Social Media Day in 2013. Nestled in West Midtown, we networked and learned about social media from Dorothea Volpe. I again ran into Chris at GameVidExpo, where I was a featured panelist on fair use for YouTubers, and SIEGEcon, where I presented on intellectual property law basics for game designers. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I turned my sights to MomoCon. My hope is that the information shared here will raise awareness of the risks presented by fan art, how to guard...

Copyright for the Freelance Artist Part 3: Copyright Infringement and Defenses

  by Lee Morin, Esq. Articles related to Copyright for the Freelance Artist series may be found here: Part 1: Copyright Basics (The 101) Part 2: 3 Types of Employment Agreements Part 4: A Case Study of Momocon   In our last blog, Copyright for the Freelance Artist, Pt. 2, we discussed three types of agreements employers and artists might use when collaborating: work for hire, assignment, and license. In Copyright for the Freelance Artist, Pt. 1, we defined copyright, stated what subject matter it protects, the exclusive rights it grants, and outlined the benefits of registration, for example, access to federal courts and statutory damages in enforcement proceedings.   Moral Rights/ Les Droits Morale As a freelance artist, you may decide that registering federal copyright in your creative works provides you with the means to protect them. Moral rights, which exist in Europe, provide artists with the means to further protect their works, which rights are inalienable, meaning they cannot be contracted away, and include the right to create, to determine completeness, to withdraw, to attribution, and to integrity. The United States recognizes a limited set of moral rights for visual artists [.1]; thus, an artist, who paints, draws, prints, sculpts, and photographs images for exhibition only, in single copies or limited editions of 200 or less, signed and consecutively numbered, may assert their moral rights to attribution and integrity. Copyright Registration for Artists For all other artists, copyright registration is the sole method by which you may protect your creative works from impermissible exploitation, by enabling the copyright owner to exclude others from use. The use of your...

Copyright for the Freelance Artist Pt 2: 3 Types Contract Agreement

The 3 Basic Types of Agreement for Artist Freelancers by Lee Morin, Esq. Articles related to Copyright for the Freelance Artist series may be found here: Part 1: Copyright Basics (The 101) Part 2: 3 Types of Employment Agreements Part 3: Copyright Infringement and Defenses  Part 4: A Case Study of Momocon THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS: The Case of Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics Whether you transfer ownership of or merely grant permission to use the exclusive rights to your work depends on the contract agreements in place.  Heated debates have arisen where it concerns agreements between freelance artists and publishers that allowed publishers to exploit characters in the comic book industry. Motion picture adaptations of literary superheroes are an example of derivative works, which provide the film industry with some of the highest earning films of late, grossing more than 15 billion dollars for Marvel, now Disney, since 2000 [11] .  Because copyright law provides that freelancers can terminate transfers of ownership in the exclusive rights to their work [12] , heirs of freelance artist Jack Kirby sued Marvel to reclaim rights to characters Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Spider Man, Thor, and X-Men [13] . Marvel argued that Kirby produced work as made for hire not subject to termination; thus, Marvel was author and owner; neither Kirby nor his heirs had any claim.  The heirs insisted that Kirby had not irrevocably transferred his rights to Marvel, rather that the transfer was subject to termination after 56 years [14] . After petitioning the Supreme Court for certiorari, parties settled their dispute on confidential terms [15] .  Whether freelance...

Copyright for the Freelance Artist Pt 1: Copyright Basics

So today we have an awesome guest blogger Lee Morin, an Entertainment Lawyer here to shed some light about things that artists might not know but probably should, especially if they are freelancing or considering doing so. One of these things that people might be familiar with but not in details have to do with the issue of copyright in art and adaptations. While something we are all probably familiar with at a basic level, here’s some useful information that might get artists more familiar with a bit more than just the definition and a bit of how copyright is important especially to artists. * This guest blog post was written by Lee Morin, Esq.   OF COPYRIGHT, CONTRACTS, AND FAN ART If you are reading this blog, words like “manga,” “cosplay,” or “doujinshi,” may seem ordinary.  To the uninitiated, these words are foreign; but, if you have heard of Pokémon, or Dragon Ball Z, then you know “manga”[1].  My first encounter with manga was the film adaptation of Akira, and later with Ghost in the Shell, whose soundtrack is as haunting as its subject matter.  Following in the footsteps of the crossover tradition was the epic film adaptation, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, from the successful media franchise Final Fantasy, which, “centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games, but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise [2].” The film adaptation of Final Fantasy was the first photorealistic computer animated feature film, and most expensive to produce at $137 million with a staff of 200 at 960 workstations rendering 141,964 frames over a span of...