Mind Your Business: Who is Keeping Your Royalties?
She continues: "I have received three travel stipends from GRAFILL for…approx. $10,000. I have also received a travel stipend from the Norwegian Illustrators Society for $5,800. I would highly recommend that artists allow ASIP to represent them as U.S. rights holders so they can gain access to the money that is rightfully theirs."
I found out through the ASIP that since 1980, KOPINOR in Norway has collected more than NOK 3.5 billion (US $570 million) in reprographic fees. I can only account for slightly more than $1 billion (US) collected domestically. That's right. Norway, which only has 4.7 million people (about the size of Houston) collects more than half as much for artists and authors as the U.S. does, even though Norway's population is 1/74 of the U.S.
In addition to the money collected through blanket licenses, some reprographic royalties can be traced to specific artists. These are called title-specific royalties and in some cases, it means that there are checks with artists' names waiting for them overseas.
Lynn Reznick, licensing manager for syndicated cartoonist Mark Parisi, learned about reprographic royalties through her association with ASIP. In a recent letter to the ASIP board, she wrote, "In June of 2009, we were contacted by the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL, an Australian rights company) regarding potential copyright payments that were allocated to Mark...We registered with CAL and now are paid directly to our bank account." She adds that to date they have received a total of $4,687.16.
Other countries pay illustrators for photocopying their work, and I'm tired of it! I joined the ASIP because I want my royalties!
Heard enough? Are you tired of other people keeping your money? Then do something about it!
Join the ASIP at www.asip-repro.org/join.html.
What's the catch? Not much. There's no cost to join but there is a HUGE cost if you don't.
The ASIP will be funded by taking an administrative fee from royalties it collects for you, so there is no cash out of your pocket. It is also run by illustrators: very smart illustrators. Many of these people are responsible for defeating the Orphan Works bill, so you know they are on your side.
Will you get huge checks after you join? No, probably not. First we need to prove to the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations (IFRRO) that we should be recognized as one voice of illustrators. Then royalties should start to flow to the ASIP and then to the people who deserve it instead of large organizations and publishers who get rich off of our talent.
According to the WIPO National Seminar on Copyright, Related Rights, and Collective Management, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the IFRRO links together all the RROs as well as national and international associations of rights holders. "To collect fees, the RROs enter into bilateral agreements with each other."
But is there a lot of money out there just waiting for us to eventually receive? Hell, yes!
The CCC's website states, "In the last 15 years, we've distributed more than $1 billion in royalties to the rights holders we represent." Their site also states, "Today, we represent tens of thousands of authors, publishers and creators from nearly every country in the world…" That means they've paid royalties to authors, publishers and creators.
The folks at ASIP directed me an official IFRRO publication online, The Art of Copying. According to this booklet, reprographic royalties due to visual artists (illustrators and photographers) average 15% of total reprographic revenues. (See the footnote on page 18.)
According to IFRRO's booklet, The Art of Copying, "Research shows that copying of visual material increases significantly when it can be done digitally. Digital copying offers the user a much better quality copy and provides numerous options for manipulation and storing the copy. These advantages pose opportunities as well as obvious risks for creators of visual material."