Sunday, October 27, 2019

Freelance workers in CA impacted by AB 5 new law Jan 2020 -- Updated 12.27.19

If you are a freelancer in California, new statute California AB 5 will impact you beginning Jan 1, 2020.

If you are not in California -- this law is an ideal case study to follow.

Bottom line for any freelancer: Don't panic.
Laws are a process. They go through many changes as a bill. They continue to go through changes once they are enacted.

The intent of this law is to push back against employers that are abusing freelancers. Getting the law refined to protect freelancers is the next step. It will take time. It will happen faster if freelancers stay involved with the process.

Stay informed. Watch cases that develop. Contact your representatives with feedback. Make your voice heard. Be part of the solution.

UPDATE 12.27.19
LA Times article " AB5 isn't to blame for loss of work" by Michael Hiltzik

UPDATE 12.18.19
LA Times article "Freelance journalists file suit, calling AB 5  unconstitutional"
Quote: "Freelance writers and photographers are not the only critics of the law....Gig-economy companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash launched a campaign against the legislation, arguing that treating workers as employees would hobble them in California, one of their biggest U.S. markets, and set a precedent for other states to enact similar legislation. The companies have said they will spend tens of millions of dollars on a ballot measure opposing the law if they are not able to carve out alternative rules for drivers."

This looks to be one of the "cases that develop" referenced above...

UPDATE 10.30.19
I listened to an hour-long legal guidance discussion with 2 Intellectual Property attorneys and an employment attorney about AB 5 and its impact on musicians, artists, industry free lancers, and small businesses using free lancers. The roll out for this law in January will likely end up in court cases where a lot of the answers we're looking for will get sorted out. Regarding film industry jobs, it's unlikely there will be much change in how business has always been done between studios/production companies and free lancers. No free lancer is going to want to black list themselves by bringing a wage claim case to enforce the AB 5 provisions. If you are a free lancer and you are working all the time for the same company, it's likely in your best interest and that of the company to transition to employee statues. But if you like free lancing and working for a variety of industry companies, chances are you won't see much change after Jan 1st. However -- this is all just guidance, not legal advice. Talk with a lawyer if you have specific questions. These weekly online sessions are a benefit from the legal service I've subscribed to for several years. If you join the monthly subscription service you can have access to this and all the other hour-long online discussions. Link for the service:

This is a link for the complete text of AB 5

AB 5 will be enacted before the CASE Act, and may provide some helpful examples of how to refine that law to protect artist rights.

Here is a recent article on California AB 5 from the Los Angeles Times:

Freelance Writers Fear Gig Worker Law Will Cost Them Jobs by Michael Hiltzik

"The initial blow — and the trigger for the employer’s decision in Conroy’s case — was the California Supreme Court’s so-called Dynamex decision of 2018, which tightened the rules for when a worker must be considered a company’s employee rather than an independent contractor. But what’s generated more angst among the freelancers in journalism is Assembly Bill 5, a statute enacted this year that codified the Dynamex decision and expanded its reach...

Concerns about the impact of AB 5, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, have been percolating for months. But anxiety seemed to surge over the weekend, after an article in the Hollywood Reporter painted an especially dire picture of its consequences...

(there are)...clear virtues of AB 5, as well as the difficulties inherent in trying to draft a remedy to the well-documented abuses suffered by freelance writers and photographers at the hands of publishers unfettered by workplace standards."

also the Hollywood Reporter article referenced in the LA Times link above:

"Everybody is  Freaking Out -- Freeelance Writers Scramble to Make Sense of New California Law" By Katie Kilkenny.

"The bill, which cracks down on companies — like ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber — that misclassify would-be employees as independent contractors, has been percolating through the California legislative system for nearly a year. It codifies the 2018 Dynamex decision by the State Supreme Court while carving out some exemptions for specific professions.
But the exemption for freelance journalists — which some have only just learned about via their colleagues, press reports, social networks and/or spirited arguments with the bill's author on Twitter — contains what some say is a potentially career-ending requirement for a writer to remain a freelancer: If a freelance journalist writes for a magazine, newspaper or other entity whose central mission is to disseminate the news, the law says, that journalist is capped at writing 35 "submissions" per year per "putative employer." At a time when paid freelance stories can be written for a low end of $25 and high end of $1 per word, some meet that cap in a month just to make end's meet."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

CASE Act YES vote in House, now on to the Senate -- UPDATED

UPDATED 3.11.2021

CASE ACT became law Jan 2021! More on that here:
updates here from 3.2020

Link for recent article "Copyright law comes under scrutiny..." by Daniel Grant

Also this ..
Long ago planned increased fees for copyright registrations have just been launched I believe

Oct 2019 post..

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (aka the CASE Act) was overwhelming approved with a YES vote in the House of Representatives.

CASE Act support graphic below by illustrator David Beard from the Graphic Artist Guild (GAG) Facebook page.

Here's the GAG statement on the Yes vote..

The Graphic Artists Guild Applauds the House Passage of The CASE Act

Washington, DC (October 23, 2019): The Graphic Artists Guilds applauds the passage of H.R. 2426the Copyright Alternative in Small-claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) by the full House last evening. The vote demonstrated the overwhelming and bi-partisan support which exists for the Bill, with 410 members voting aye and only six voting nay.  This was a decisive victory for visual artists and creators.
The Guild is grateful to Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) for their leadership in introducing the Bill, and to the original co-sponsors: Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). We are particularly grateful for the care these Members took in listening to the concerns of individual creators, and in crafting a Bill that balances the concerns of those who create copyrighted works and those who use them.
The CASE Act would establish a small copyright claims tribunal within the Copyright Office that would handle small copyright disputes via an expedited, affordable process. Currently, the only recourse individuals with small copyright claims have is to proceed with a suit in federal court, where the legal costs often outstrip the potential awards for small infringements.
Guild National President Lara Kisielewska says: “The Guild constantly hears from illustrators and designers whose work has been infringed. They feel stymied by a system in which, if the infringer refuses to negotiate with them, their only course of action is an expensive, time-consuming process in federal court. We believe The CASE Act will not only provide creators with an affordable alternative to federal court, but will also deter the outright theft of the work of individual creators, and in so doing, will restore respect for their labor and their copyrights.”

If it also passes in the Senate and is signed by the President, the CASE act will provide an optional small claims court enforcement for copyright protections. (Infographic below from the GAG Facebook page)

Claims up to $30,000 could be handled with or without lawyers via the Small Claims Court option.

There is some opposition to the Bill, but groups supporting the bill include the News Media Alliance, SAG-AFTRA, Professional Photographers of America and the Copyright Alliance.

Here are links for articles about the CASE Act Yes vote:

The best thing about the CASE Act becoming law is that it will increase awareness about art theft and indie artist rights.

Many new laws are controversial at first -- and the first versions of them aren't perfect. Through enforcement of the law, it gets argued and refined.

There are pros and cons to any new law. It's good to study both sides.

However, I still feel the CASE Act is in the best interest of indie artists at this point. There isn't another option that gives them a real way to fight back against theft without going to federal court. The expenses and time involved for that sort of case is beyond the scope and means of the majority of indie artist theft/infingements.

The CASE Act is a possible way to settle cases up to $30,000. With or without lawyers. Without the expense of trial and travel. Artists can opt out of the small claims court option.

It's still vital that creators REGISTER their copyrights. Enforcement of copyright law protections really hinges on that step. The 2019 Supreme Court ruling establishes that it's the registration certificate in hand -- not just the application process -- that is required for this pre-requisite to be met.

To best protect copyrights, artists should get in the habit of registering their copyrights quarterly or at least every 6 mos. It's possible to bundle images and register them as a group as long as they are all UNPUBLISHED images. Check with your Intellectual Property attorney for guidelines that best suit your needs.

More info on the CASE Act can be found on the Graphic Artist Guild website. Here are some fact-checking infographics on the CASE Act from the GAG. Click on these to enlarge.

This "Tools and Resources" page on the GAG website offers terrific articles with basics on Copyright, Trademark, etc.

Some previous posts here on the blog about the CASE Act and Copyright infrigement:

Saturday, October 19, 2019

LA Printer's Fair 2019 -- Intl Printing Museum

Minutes from the SNB store in Torrance is a So Cal gem -- the  International Printing Museum and it's annual LA Printer's Fair.
It's a family-friendly, hands-on experience to tour this museum (open Saturdays and by appointment). They also offer programs for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to earn 2 merit badges in Printing crafts (Graphic Arts and Pulp and Paper). The docents are all charming to watch as they get young and old to connect with innovations in the printing process that shaped history.

Here are some views of the museum exterior and some of the exhibit space inside.

They have a portable museum on wheels they take to schools etc.
Once a year, the museum hosts the Los Angeles Printer's Fair, sponsored by Kelly Paper.  This is a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind prints and cards of all sorts. The Fair also has activities and terrific food at a food truck and a small cafe.

The 2019 Fair is open 10AM - 4PM Saturday Oct 19th and Sunday Oct 20th.

Since I have pen pals, I'm always looking for fun cards to send them.

This post features some of the cards I got and info on the artists I got them from.

Note all the wonderful BRANDING!!! Put your name on your work, so when it gets shared, new eyes that like it can track you down. Share the story of your art, your process, your passion. Help educate fans that the images they enjoy are the artWORK of a unique individual that they are supporting. Help your artwork help you!

Lace Lit was a particular stand-out in this area. Adding a thank you card with social media contacts to the purchase bag... and inviting patrons to share their purchases on this sites.

 I loved these vinyl stickers!
An assortment of blank cards
 Harry Potter themed stickers...
 and a card cross-promoting a family member's pop culture Podcast! Super!!!

More cards.. and great branding
 Company name, art process info, and hometown location on the back of each card.
Business card with artist  name and contact info.

Back of each card has Artist name and process, as well as website address.

Bag sealed with branded sticker. Since this was a printing fair, the business cards were impressive. This white business card had some serious heft to the paper stock.  
Sample of three blank cards.  
Process, hometown location update, and contact info on the back of each card.

More great branding here. Branded bag. Process, location, and LLC on back of card.

These charming cat cards were sold as a set of ten. 

This artist was away from her table when I got these, but the Printer Fair has excellent volunteers who watch the space and can handle exact change cash transactions. These two cards are single sheets of heavy paper stock prints and feature images with the title of the work and copyright info on the back of the print.

At the museum's info desk, they had a number of items for sale to support the museum. I loved flipping through a box of vintage postcards -- priced to take home a handful at $1/eac.

Each one of the cards at this table was a work of art. They were $8/each, on the high end of the price point for cards at this fair, but something to treasure.

Fantastic vintage images as useful stationary products. I could not resist the seahorse notepad.
Or these mini-sized notebooks with travel poster images.  

I loved the idea that I could give a no-maintenance house plant by sending one of these cards.

My two favorite moments at the Fair this years featured inteactive booths!


Chatting with the staff as I linger over all the beautiful vintage typewriters. Be still my heart. I learned one of the owners is a fan of SNB. Small world!!

They had their own tented booth at the back of the exhibitor area.
So many cool typewriters on display! 
Along with this sign at the booth entrance!

If you want your turn at trying out the laptop of the last century, they will have a booth at this show in February.

Contact info on this double-sided postcard -- I love these.
In fact, I loved them.. and old typewriters.. so much, I left some at the SNB store.

The crown jewel event for me at this year's Printer's Fair...

This table caught my eye because of the vintage typewriter.. and the exhibitor's offer:
A writing challenge!!
A poem about me and/or the topic of my choice for $10.
Best. Investment. Ever!
Either I'm really gabby and transparent, or Bryan Mahoney is a mind-reader, or maybe a bit of both... but while I walked around the rest of the exhibitor area.. and visited the Typewriter tent (featured above) that he told me about... he crafted a poem that really lifted my spirits after a tough week! I needed this and will be forever grateful. While the poem feels really personal to me, I'm sharing it here as an example of his craft and the testimony of a very satisfied client.
He is available for parties and events. It was really fun to see a brief conversation spun like molten glass by a master into a sparkling memento.

The Los Angeles Printer's Fair is a top notch South Bay attraction. Held each October at the International Printing Museum. Don't miss out on your chance to visit this annual event!