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...

The Artist Epidemic: Paid or Free Work

*This is a personal rant with a lot of opinions. There may be generalizations.   We often encounter stories in the media about the wage gap and gender/racial inequality. While at an animator’s meeting today, I discovered another pervasive ideology that I find disturbing: the epidemic of artists that do not get paid what they deserve. Artists deserve to be paid for the hours that they put in. That includes the expenses they incur from travel, meeting hours with clients, and the hours of executing a task.   When you calculate the amount of hours put into a project versus what they earn, their wage falls well below the minimum. The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 an hour…except when applied to a freelance artist working under a set budget. I’ve talked to friends that get into projects like this. They do revision after revision with no additional charges, their hourly rate dwindling to less than $4…$3…$2…. Some artists don’t even break even. They end up exhausting their time and energy and inadvertently end up paying for the clients’ work.   Three Simple Things to Ask Yourself When You Accept Work 1. Why am I doing this? When you accept the work from a client/non-paying “friend”, what are you getting out of it? Are you getting monetary compensation, learning a new skill , or getting mentorship? You might be happy to do work for your best friends or family members. You will also be met with requests from acquaintances that just need a wedding invitation or a card for their boyfriend. These people never communicate with you on a daily basis but when they need art they suddenly remember their forgotten friend. This being said, many people have different...

List of Film Festivals

One of the goals filmmakers generally have in making a film is to have it seen by audiences. While platforms such as Youtube or Vimeo are great for public distribution, another way to garner recognition and a great way to get your film out is through Film Festival screenings. Granted most festivals worth entering not only have a submission fee ranging from around $25 to 45 dollars. With limited budget, which festivals are worth submitting to? There are many subjective answers to this question but having a general idea of some of the existing film festivals is usually a goo way to start. This list was compiled from some festivals we have submitted STARLIGHT to, research, and recommendations from other filmmakers. (To see a full list of festivals STARLIGHT has been accepted into and screened at, here is our information on our press page.) The tabs below are sorted into general, global, Atlanta-specific, and FREE (information focused on shorts, especially animation. Features not included). DOWNLOAD FILM FESTIVAL LIST AS PDF  We will also be running another article on basic film festival submission guidelines, submission platforms, how to prepare for your Press Kit, benefits of online screener, fees, information and more tips and tricks in another article. *Disclaimer: Please note this list was compiled based on the year 2014 Festivals and as current updated information as possible in 2015 but are still subjected to change. Please do your own further research for your film submission as we claim no authority or liability for any misinformation that may occur from the information in this...

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...