They will show you what you need to see.
- Firstly, Colleen Doran, has long been second to none in her vigilance regarding creators rights issues, although she recently announced her retirement from an active role in such¹. A’course, she’ll continue to point us towards people that are continuing that fight, and did so today:
I strongly advise you to read this article at The New York Law Journal, “Sounds Like a Broken Record: Analyzing legislative failure and the copyright doctrines of work for hire and termination”. It addresses the Jack Kirby case (which, I still believe, may be a lost one,) as well as other serious problems with the application of the work for hire doctrine and the “instance and expense test”.
There are also very important words about independent musicians and self funded projects.
Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer, but I found the article in question to be pretty readable with a bit of patience (and some back-and-forth to the footnotes, which start on page 4 — at least, on my browser with my font size). Much of it applies to creators interacting with large publishers, but the bit that may make readers of this page want to do some research is the second paragraph from the bottom of page 3 (or, if you prefer, the ‘graf between footnotes 38 and 39):
Indeed, it is not just major corporations such as record labels that stand to be impacted by the Copyright Act’s present shortcoming, but start-up companies, young entrepreneurs and, in some instances, struggling artists themselves who have truly sought to commission a work for creation at their own risk and expense. Consider the case of an independent musician who tours or initiates a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter.com or simply waits tables to save money to record a studio album with no outside contribution from a record label or otherwise, an increasingly frequent scenario in today’s DIY-oriented music industry. Under the present formulation of the Copyright Act, such independent artists could stand to lose the copyright interest in their own commissioned recordings. If the recordings are not works for hire, then the session musicians, engineers and/or recording studio that the independent artist paid to help create the recordings may terminate their effective assignment of rights to the artist in 35 years. That works a great disadvantage to the self-funded musicians.
There’s your homework assignment kids: read carefully, determine what constitutes “works made for hire”, and which end of that definition you may end up on with respect to your projects.
- Now that you’ve gone and edumacated yourself on the intricacies of intellectual property law, how about a quick demonstration from somebody who’s Doing It Right? America’s greatest living editorial cartoonist, Stan Kelly of Kelly’s Komix, has moved beyond seething disdain for modern things like the internet and recorded a video detailing his process. Creators, take note how communicating with your audience can help convey some of the nuances of your work so that your point of view isn’t accidentally lost beneath layers of meaning. Fire up the video in one window and the comic in another, and try to keep up.
¹ Although I suspect this will only mean a retirement from actively trying to influence government and legislation; when she sees something particularly egregious or recognizes a situation parallel to her own experiences, I imagine we’ll get more of her finely considered opinion and instructive anecdotes.