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Copyright Myths

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Copyright Basics and Common Misconceptions Debunked

The Graphic Artists Guild, publisher of The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote and protect the social, economic and professional interests of its members.  Members receive the book, a broad range of discounts on design-oriented businesses, and the Guild promotes its members to hundreds or art buyers throughout the United States and Canada.  Additionally, the Guild holds practical illustration and design business webinars throughout the year to ensure its members remain empowered to secure and maintain a strong professional career.

One of our most popular white papers, Copyright Basics and Common Misconceptions Debunked, is available for free download below. In it you will find answers to the most popular copyright-related questions.

Topics Include:

  • Infringement
  • Using Works without a Credit or Copyright Notice
  • Fair Use
  • The Internet, Web Sites and Blogs
  • Public Domain and Public Access
  • Use by Religions Entities, Educational Institutions and Non-Profit
  • Organizations
  • Liability for Copyright Infringement
  • Willful Infringement
  • Usage Issues: Who Owns What?
  • Where to Report Infringement
  • Registering Copyright

To receive a link where you may download a copy of may download a copy of may download a copy of Copyright Myths: Copyright Basics and Common Misconceptions Debunked, kindly provide your email address below.

Copyright Myths: Copyright Basics and Common Misconceptions Debunked
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Attention Illustrators and Photographers: Do You Have Money Coming to You?

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Authors Coalition of America, LLC (“ACA”), has identified a number of American illustrators and Photographers who may be due royalty payments from non-U.S. sources. These royalties have been received to compensate authors for the foreign reprographic use of U.S. copyrighted materials. Please visit the ACA website at and click on the Individual Author Distributions link to learn more about the program and find if ACA is looking for you. ACA was founded in 1994 and today is a coalition of 22 American Author Member Organizations. ACA is an Associate Member of the International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organizations. The Graphic Artists Guild has been a member of ACA since 2002.

Guild Executive Director Interviewed on Business Ethics

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Design blog Notes on Design recently interviewed the Guild’s Executive Director Tricia McKiernan on Creative Professionals and Ethics. The interview was a follow up to NoD’s earlier interview with IP attorney Jean Perwin on work on speculation. NoD questioned Tricia on the legal and ethical concerns with work on speculation. While crowdsourcing websites which are built on a work on speculation model are not illegal, Tricia reiterated the Guild’s stance that such practices are unethical and damaging to the participating artists. Tricia also covered the Code of Fair Practice, which attempts to define ethical standards for conducting business in the commercial arts. You can read the full text of Tricia’s interview on the Notes on Design blog.

Senate Takes Aim at Website Trafficking in Unlicensed Copyrighted Works

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On May 12, 2011, the Senate introduced The PROTECT IP Act, which would give law enforcement more tools to go after web sites dedicated to infringing and counterfeit products. This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Judiciary Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“If website operators who deliberately mislead and defraud consumers are allowed to engage in this behavior unhindered, the entire Internet marketplace is at risk,” said Sandra Aistars, the Executive Director of the Copyright Alliance. “We applaud legislative efforts to support millions of American jobs; protect consumers from misleading, fraudulent schemes; and defend legitimate online commerce. These are principles every economic sector and every consumer should be able to agree on.”

Will 10 Be the Lucky Number?

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The Artist-Museum Partnership Act has been reintroduced as H.R. 1190, “The Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2011,” this time sponsored by Rep. John Lewis [D-GA]. If passed, the act would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that a deduction equal to fair market value shall be allowed for charitable contributions of literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions created by the donor.”

The Graphic Artists Guild wholeheartedly supports this legislation and has supported all nine previous versions in the House and Senate since its first introduction in 1999. Please visit the Advocacy Alerts page on the Guild web site for information on how you can support this bill.

Potential Paperwork Nightmare for Small Businesses Averted

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On April 5, 2011, the Senate voted to pass H.R. 4 (Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011 ), and President Obama signed the bill into law on April 14, 2011. The law repealed IRS Notice 2010-51, hidden in “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.” That’s the zinger that would have created a paperwork nightmare for small businesses by requiring them to file a 1099 form for purchases totaling or exceeding $600 from each vendor.

Thank you to everyone who contacted your Representatives in the House and then your Senators, as well as Senate Committee members regarding this tax issue. Your concerns have been heard and your voice does make a difference!

Please Support S. 18: The “Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act”

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Good news! H.R. 4 Rep. Dan Lundren’s “Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011″ (current name) passed in the House of Representatives by roll call vote on Mar 3, 2011.

The totals were 314-112, 6 not voting with 100% of Republicans supporting, 60% of Democrats opposing.

Senator Mike Johanns introduced an identical bill in the Senate on January 25, 2011; S. 18: The “Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act.” This bill is being reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee.

It’s not known yet whether the Senate will vote on H.R. 4 or move S. 18 forward. But we should show support for this change in IRS reporting requirements for small businesses.

Take action in support of S. 18 now. Two things you can do:

1. Go to POPVOX and vote to support the bill.

2. Write to Senator Kent Conrad, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, and Ranking Member Senator Jon Kyl and urge the Committee to vote for S. 18.
Write Chairman Kent Conrad, ND
Write Ranking Member Jon Kyl, AZ

Even better, if your Senators are on the committee, write directly to them; a full list of the Senators on the committee are on our Advocacy Alerts page. You can also copy a letter which you can personalize and send to your Senator.

Copy a letter for you to personalize here.

Go to our Advocacy Alerts page for more information.

Happy Holidays!

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The end of December is drawing near. And that means there are candles to be lit, stockings to be hung, and presents to be given out, over one day, or eight. It’s the time of year when all the radio stations get the opportunity to play Elmo and Patsy’s Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer more times than Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift combined.

But aside from all the material possessions that will be wrapped, given, and White Elephant swapped, this is also the time to put down the mouse, turn off the light over your drawing table, and enjoy time with good friends and family

In whichever way you’re holiday travels take you, cherish the time you have with your loved ones. The work will still be there waiting for you to return when you get back to your office or studio. Enjoy the time you have with your close friends and family. Smile when your Aunt, whom you haven’t seen for 12 months gives you another Christmas sweater that will soon be put up on eBay. Laugh at the bad jokes told around the dinner table. Forget about the unpaid invoices for a few minutes and relish in the moist turkey, ham or other festive food that is served.

On behalf of the Guild, I wish you and yours a joyful and wondrous holiday season.
Haydn S. Adams

Graphic Artists Guild National President

New Tax Reporting Requirement Will Create a Paperwork Nightmare for Small Businesses Like Us. Write to the Senate Finance Committee and tell them!

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Hidden in “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010” was an add-on concerning small businesses: IRS Notice 2010-51. Here it is on the IRS website The new reporting requirements will apply to payments made after December 31, 2011.

This is affects every small business in the United States, including visual artists.

The new regulation will require small businesses to complete a 1099 form every year for every business or individual you make payments to -by cash or check- which total over $600 in a year. Transactions by credit or debit card are exempt because those purchases are already tracked by other means.

Small businesses would be required to send an IRS Form W-9 (request for taxpayer ID or social security number) to every business or vendor they purchase from, and produce an IRS 1099-Miscellaneous Income form for each of those businesses and vendors at tax time. If you don’t get their number and if you don’t file a 1099-Misc for each of them, you will have an additional withholding reporting requirement on your annual income tax. This will be a huge time and accounting burden for small businesses.

There are a lot of objections from all directions to this requirement, from different types of small business organizations. It also seems that the IRS changes its rules and reporting requirements all the time, irrespective of what was stated in legislation, so it’s anybody’s guess where this regulation will end up or if it will be enforced.

The Graphic Artists Guild sent the IRS a comment letter on Notice 2010-51 in September 2010.

Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) has introduced S. 3578 the “Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act,” which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. The Graphic Artists Guild urges graphic artists as small business owners to write to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, as well as Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), the Chair of Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, and Long-Term Growth, and let them know that you support S. 3578 and you want the Committee to move this legislation forward.

More information about this legislation at

Senator Max Baucus’ web form email

Senator Max Baucus’ Fax: (202) 224-9412

Senator Kent Conrad’s web form email

Senator Kent Conrad’s Fax: (202) 224-7776

We’ve provided a sample letter for you to email or fax.

Your Name
Your Street
City, State zip
To: Honorable Senator Max Baucus
To: Honorable Kent Conrad
Re: S. 3578 the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act

Dear Senator [Baucus] [Conrad],

I am a [insert discipline], a small business owner and handle my own business paperwork. The new Section 6041reporting requirement of the Internal Revenue Code would create a tremendous burden on my business, obligating me to spend additional unbillable administrative time on paperwork.

I typically spend at least $600 a year with a variety of stores and vendors, such as office supply stores, photocopy shops, art supply stores, electronics retailers, printers, fabricators, and many online vendors, as well as licensing fees for usage of other’s copyrighted work. Some purchases are made by credit or debit card, but many are also made by check or cash.

If the new Section 6041reporting requirement were enacted, these stores and vendors will also incur a huge increase in administrative labor hours to process the additional paperwork from small business customers like me. Those cost increases will be passed along to every consumer increasing the cost of goods and services. The IRS will need to increase in staff as well to process this additional paperwork, increasing operating costs that will likely be greater than the revenue received from this new rule. It just doesn’t make economic sense for anyone.

I support S. 3578 the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, which will repeal IRS Notice 2010-51 in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. I would like to see the Senate Committee on Finance move S. 3578 forward.


[Your Name]

Member of the Graphic Artists Guild

Free Copyright Seminar on May 5th

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Best Practices Workshop

The Software and Information Industry Association is hosting the Copyright Registration Best Practices Workshop in Washington, DC on May 5 from noon to 2:15 p.m. EST.  Attendance in person or via webcast is free. RSVP at


Ted Hirakawa, Assistant Chief, Literary Division, U.S. Copyright Office
William Briganti, Assistant Chief, Visual Arts Division, U.S. Copyright Office

Topics that will be addressed:

• Best practices within the context of changed registration procedures
• Current ways of submitting claims within the Office’s electronic registration system.
• Recent developments in copyright registration, especially those for works disseminated electronically, e.g., database claims, works published within websites, works fixed in newer formats.
• The speakers will also present a demonstration of the electronic system in which we’re now examining claims to copyright and creating permanent registration records.

Be proactive and learn how to protect yourself and your work by attending the seminar in person or via webinar.

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