Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Authors Coalition royalties

Found the following via Twitter and through a message posted by Kurt Busiek. The Authors Coalition of America has a list of authors and illustrators who may be owed royalties from non-U.S. sources due to what they call "foreign reprographic (or photocopying)". There are several well-known names in the list, such as:

  • Sergio Aragon├ęs
  • Kyle Baker
  • Robert Crumb
  • Steve Ditko
  • Colleen Doran
  • Gary Hallgren
  • Andy Kuhn
  • Mike Luckovich
  • Patrick McDonnell
  • Mike Mignola
  • Art Spiegelman

And there are even some names of deceased comics creators:
  • Lee Falk
  • Brant Parker (presumably the Wizard of Id artist?)
  • Gil Kane
  • Alex Schomburg 
  • Joe Shuster
  • Rick Griffin
The site has the contact info and forms that authors need to fill in order to claim their royalties. I'm not sure how the whole setup works, but there's more information in the site's FAQ:

What is the Authors Coalition of America (ACA) and why are you sending me a check?
The Authors Coalition of America is a coalition of 22 U.S. author organizations that came together in 1994 to receive and distribute foreign reprographic (or photocopying) royalties. These royalties were non-title specific (authors unknown) and distributed by collective method to our Member Organizations to be used for the benefit of authors. In 2007, the Authors Coalition began receiving title-specific reprographic royalties for visual material authors. Under agreements with Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs), the Authors Coalition is able to distribute these royalties to individual visual materials authors for photocopy use of graphic arts, illustrations and photographs outside the United States.
The check you received is for the portion of the RRO's distribution to Authors Coalition that is designated for you by the foreign collecting country.

Did the Authors Coalition authorize use of my work?
No. The Authors Coalition does not represent authors, does not license copyrighted works and did not authorize use of your work. We function strictly as a payment agent for RROs and other foreign collecting societies wishing to distribute reprographic royalty payments to authors.

If Authors Coalition did not authorize use of my work, and I did not authorize use of my work, was my work illegally copied?
Not necessarily. With few exceptions, a foreign RRO from which payment is being made collects license fees for photocopying under special legislation in its country that permits the use of U.S. works without authorization from the U.S. rightsholder. The laws of these countries include "statutory licenses" that give users the right to photocopy material on the condition that they report that usage and pay royalties to an RRO. Although the RRO in a particular country may not have received authorization from you or your agent to license your work, it will have collected photocopy license fees with full legal authority in its own country. Fees are collected for photocopying in schools, universities, businesses, research centers and elsewhere.