Last April we announced that the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, had dismissed all claims in a million dollar lawsuit brought by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) against the Illustrators Partnership and five named individuals.
Regarding a key statement at issue in the lawsuit: that GAG had taken over one and a half million dollars of illustrators' royalties "surreptitiously," the judge wrote:
"The plaintiff Guild has conceded that it received foreign reproductive royalties and that it does not distribute any of the money to artists."
The names on the list range from some of the best known artists in our field to many whose identity we can't be sure of. We've already contacted our own members to alert them. Now we urge any artist who has ever done published work to follow the instructions below to see if your name is on the list and if so, to learn what you'll have to do to claim your royalties.
The royalties involved are title-specific fees. That means it's money derived from the foreign licensing of books or other publications where a single author can be identified by the foreign collecting societies that monitor usage and collect usage fees. The sums owed to any individual may not be large. Still, we believe that paying artists what they're due constitutes both an important principle and establishes a precedent for retaining our rights in the digital era.
Returning these title-specific royalties to artists is a start. Yet it still leaves open the far larger question of non-title specific royalties. These are collective fees derived from work that appears in magazines, newspapers, annual reports and other collective works.
Collective fees can be returned to artists only by a collecting society properly chartered to receive funds and make equitable distributions to rightsholders. In the US, 12 illustrators organizations have come together for this purpose. We'll have more to say about that shortly.
In the meantime, here's how you can see if you have money currently waiting for you and what you'll need to do to receive it:
Your name may be posted here:
(Click on the box labeled LIST OF AUTHORS.)
1) Download and fill out the ACA Collection and Claim Form PDF here:
2) Download and fill out the W-9 Form PDF here:
3) Fax them to Authors Coalition at 313-882-3047, or mail to:
Authors Coalition of America
280 Moross Road
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner