Anime Expo Lite 2021 – PROJECT ANIME PRESENTS: UNDERSTANDING YOUR RIGHTS AS AN ARTIST – Notes!

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(image from: https://www.dmca.com/Takedowns.aspx

Credit: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

START: 2:00 PM END: 2:45 PM (PDT) | 3 July 2021 | CHANNEL: 3

Panel Description: Attorney/Consultant Gamal Hennessy (Creative Contract Consulting) and global pop culture expert Kuo-Yu Liang (Ku Worldwide) discuss the key things artists should know when it comes to protecting their work. Learn about the copyright registration process, what it takes to enforce copyrights, and what to look out for when it comes to contracts.

First are some links to check out: 

With that said, let’s get into the notes!

A lot of important things were said in this panel, but here are some of the most important points to gleam from this particular interview:

• If you want to get into this kind of legal work, there are four sections of law to really look at: 1. Contract Law, 2. Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Laws (specifically, copyrights and trademarks), 3. Entertainment Law, and 4. Publishing Law (a subsection of entertainment law). Understanding those four pieces of law are important if you want to get into the legal side of comics. And remember, every state (in the USA) has different laws for these sections. It’s important to understand what applies to you.

• It is important to memorialize your work – That means you need to copyright the art and story via the copyright process. It is about $65 and you don’t necessarily need a lawyer. You can learn more about the process here: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html 

• For artists/freelancers: Anytime you work with someone, make a contract! In the contract, clarify that you own the work! Unless they’re paying you to give up that particular art or project in the contract. If you are not signing away your rights, be sure to enforce them. For example, if you see someone you contracted with or even a third party stranger selling your work without permission, you should go about issuing a DMCA takedown notice. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) “is a 1998 United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM). It also criminalizes the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself. In addition, the DMCA heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet” (Wiki).

• Some terms to know:

  • Copyright protects the story and some of the art (like character design) – it is a short process and lasts through the life of the owner + 70 years
  • Trademark protects image (logos, some designs, symbols, etc.) – it is a much longer and more involved process that takes about a year and you SHOULD have a lawyer. Trademarks are good to have before licensing your work with a publisher or making merchandise
  • Gross Profit – What the publisher got from the sale of the product 
  • Net Profit – What is left after the publisher subtracts costs (print, conventions, etc).

• In a contract, look at what you are giving up and what you are getting. If you can’t easily find it in the contract, you are probably getting nothing and losing everything. It’s part of why you should consider getting a lawyer before licensing with a publisher.

• When should I walk away from an offer?

  • Creators need to decide what each offer is worth to them, but a good general rule is to consider walking away when the offer costs you more than it gives–whether that be in rights, money, or control. You have to decide for yourself whether giving up something is worth the income or recognition or something else. 
  • Important to note too is that years can go by before many creators get a deal with a publisher and people sign immediately on the first author because they’ve waited so long. BUT there are over 300 publishers. You do not need to take the first offer and–if no one is offering–you may need to find a different publisher than the ones you are currently looking at. You can also consider publishing your own comic. No deal is often better than a bad deal. 

There was a lot more offered in this panel that we couldn’t get down so definitely consider looking at the links offered above.

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