Wednesday, August 22, 2007

PCO Procartoonists - An artist’s story

PCO member Noel Ford writes;

I've just had an interesting and, for me, unique experience, complete with ironic twist, that should be of interest to any cartoonists with a grievance concerning the unauthorised use of their cartoons.

Earlier this year, a client informed me that three of the of the cartoon illustrations which I had produced for him, had been spotted in a business magazine, decorating a feature. Consequently, I wrote to the editor of this magazine, informing her that she had published the cartoons without obtaining permission from either my client or myself. I was quite polite, and said that, in this case, the matter could be resolved by her paying me for repro rights, for which I enclosed an invoice.

I received no reply.

I phoned, explained the situation, and was told the editor would call me.

She didn't.

I phoned again, and spoke to the magazine's business manager, who promised everything would be sorted.

It wasn't - and he didn't call back.

I phoned again. Neither the editor or the business manager was available, so I asked for a call back, adding that I would not call again and that should they not contact me, I would commence legal proceedings.

They didn't call back.

I wrote a final formal letter, informing them they were in breach of my copyright, and confirmed that unless I heard from them forthwith, I would take the matter to the courts.

They didn't reply.

So, having made the threat, I was obliged to follow through, and I went to the website of Her Majesty's Courts Service here

Submitting my claim, on line, was both easy and quick. I had to pay £30, which would be added to my claim.

The court served my claim on the 8th of August. Whether the editor was happy to concede my claim or she just didn't fancy the trip from SE England to Aberystwyth to defend her magazine, I don't know, but I received a cheque from them this morning for the full amount of my invoice, plus my court costs.

So, the moral is, don't stand by and do nothing but moan if your work is used without consent. The law is there, and HMCS and the Internet make it easy to claim.

And the ironic twist? The magazine had used my cartoons to illustrate a feature on how to avoid being sued.

The PCO says: Hooray! And check out F for Ford at our portfolio website