Friday, February 24, 2017

Bo's bLAWg - Continuation Fees to Licensing Agents


 MJ Bogatin (“Bo”) of Bogatin, Corman & Gold, is an Arts and Entertainment Attorney in San Francisco.  He is also a long-time President of California Lawyers for the Arts. Bo is available to answer some of your questions surrounding the business of Art Licensing. - THANKS BO!

My Agreement with my licensing agent is expiring.  It is my understanding that she gets to receive her commission on licenses that she negotiated.  Can you tell me how long this goes on?  How it works?  After we terminate, aren’t I entitled to receive my royalties directly from the licensees and account to her?   Trudy

All Licensing Agents will include a “Continuation Fees” provision in their Agreement with you as the Licensor Illustrator.  The essence of this provision is to give the agent the right to receive their commission on your royalties -- for as long as you receive such royalties -- on a license they placed and/or negotiated on your behalf.  The Term of the Agency Agreement may expire (if it is not renewed), but the agent expects to “continue” to share in the benefits of her services for as long as you do.  Hence the name “Continuation Fees provision.”

The provision typically appears in association with the termination provision, but not always.  It reads something like this:

“It is further agreed, regardless of termination and/or cause, Agent will continue to receive its full 50% share of all Gross Revenue associated with all License Agreements procured by Agent during the Term (and any renewals, extensions and/or modifications thereof).”

I have left in the highlighted, “and/or cause” part of this provision, because this is the kind of term that might be slipped into the otherwise expected provision.  You might miss it if you were not aware of the implication.  What the “and/or cause” means is that even if the Agency Agreement were to be terminated for breach on the part of the agent, like non-payment of royalties due their illustrator client, they would be able to rely on the contract to continue to collect commissions on agreements they made for you!   I say, “No way!”  Commission continuation right should depend on the full, good faith performance on the part of the Agent.  If they screw up and breach their Agreement, all their commission interests should be put at risk.  

In an analogous situation, the California Labor Commission takes the position that if someone is operating as a musician Booking Agent without a license from the Commission, the musicians they represent can make a claim that all commissions earned be surrendered to them.  This includes both past and future “Continuation Fees” that Booking Agents as well include in their Agency Agreements.  Why should illustrators be treated any differently.”  While literary and illustration agents are not licensed, their clients should not have lesser rights than musicians.

As for the issue of continued accounting rights, as long as the Agreement has not been breached, and the Licensor Illustrator had all agency rights revert, it is reasonably expected that post-term, the agent will continue to collect royalties due under the licenses they negotiated.  They will continue to take their commission due, and then account to their former client on the balance due for as long as the underlying Licensing Agreement continues.  Some of the more comprehensive Agent Agreements expressly include this expectation:

“Upon expiration or termination of this Agreement, Agent shall continue to collect payments under any and all License Agreements negotiated during the Term (and any renewals, extensions and/or modifications of the same) unless otherwise agreed by the parties.” 

And, just in case there is any question of whether the Illustrator should contact the Licensee and request direct payment since they are no longer represented by the Agent, some Agreements also make clear they cannot as follows:

“Artist further agrees that Artist, after expiration or termination of this Agreement, may not make any changes in the payment instructions contained in any License Agreement or other arrangement covered by this Agreement to direct any licensees to make payments directly to Artist.”

I would like to offer one alternative to the standard agent Continuation Fees provision.  It is commonly called a “Step-down rate.”  In short, if the commission due is 50% when the Agreement is entered into, two years after termination it might step-down to 25%; two years later, 15%, two years later, it might thereafter remain at 5% or expire altogether.

This compromise term is especially appropriate in those instances when an agent may be taking on an illustrator who already has a significant body of business, but the pre-existing licenses are not necessarily excluded from the Agency Agreement.  Perhaps the illustrator is looking to have the agent review license terms when they come up for renewal and/or renegotiate them when possible.  I have also negotiated inclusion of a step-down rate where the illustrator’s reputation is already ‘made’ as it were, and prospective licensees are calling her for rights.  The agent need not shop her works so much as make the best deals possible.  Then again, you might ask for it with any prospective agent.  If they want to represent you badly enough in the short term, you might save yourself some significant commission fees over time by insisting on a Step-down commission rate post–term!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is not intended as legal advice. Because the law is not static, and one situation may differ from the next, we cannot assume responsibility for any actions taken based on information contained herein. Also, be aware that the law may vary from state. Therefore, this website cannot replace the advice of an experienced attorney. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. MJ Bogatin, Bogatin, Corman & Gold,

Have a legal question? email it to I will forward it to Bo. It might be a blog post! You can search "Bo's bLAWg" to read more posts. I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.


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Friday, February 17, 2017

Agent Spotlight - Debby Leggat, Blue Sky Art & Design


How long have you been in business and how did you come to be an agent?
My career as a licensing agent began in 1994 when I started the licensing division at Wild Apple Graphics. Wild Apple was an established poster publisher, and a licensing division was a natural extension since, with a treasure trove of art, manufacturers were already approaching them with requests to use images on their products. It was a wonderful opportunity for me. My first choice would have been licensed artist myself, but a decided lack of ability disqualified me so I got to do the next best thing, which is to find licensing partners for the very talented artists I represent. Before becoming a licensing agent I worked at House & Garden magazine, sold advertising at Travel & Leisure, and handled public relations for an international trade group. All my prior experience has been very useful in what I do now.

What do you love most about the art licensing business?
There are so many things! Among them are:
• Finding talent that I believe has licensing potential and being proved right;
• Sending (big!) royalty checks to artists. Really, the bigger the better. If the artists are doing well, so is Blue Sky;
• Putting artists and manufacturers together. It’s extremely satisfying to find the perfect fit between image and product;
• Developing relationships and friendships with artists, manufacturers, and other agents. There are a lot of wonderful, talented, interesting, and hard-working people in art licensing, and I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy getting to know them through working together.

What do you like least about the art licensing business?
No question, dealing with copyright infringement. It quite literally makes me sick. I’m happy to say that often we have been able to convert a piracy to a legitimate license. There are times when infringement is inadvertent and not malicious, and the manufacturer is usually anxious to making things right.  However there are also those times when the infringement is deliberate and there’s a ‘guess we didn’t get away with that’ or a ‘we dispute your claim and will keep the dispute going forever until you go away’ attitude, or a ‘we’re too big for you to fight’ approach which is infuriating. Art Licensing is a relatively small field so word can travel pretty fast about the bad actors, but there is still far too much.

Who are the manufacturers you work with - how did you establish those relationships?
We work with manufacturers across the board from stationery to decorative accessories, wall décor, rugs and mats, tabletop and ceramics, gift. Many of our relationships are long—standing, established years ago and are on-going. For the most part they began at a trade show where the licensees were exhibiting or through cold calling and e-mailing. There’s no magic or trick to finding licensees: perusing trade publications, shopping the stores, both big box and small gift shops, and attending the trade shows are the obvious ways to find prospects. After that it’s a matter of perseverance.

How do you market artists?
By attending the gift and trade markets in Atlanta and New York, which gives us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our licensees. We exhibit at Surtex, but sporadically. Last year was very good for us, so we’ll be there again in May, but we evaluate after every show to determine it’s worth.

Beyond that we market artists largely through email: I believe in edited, tailored presentations designed to appeal to whichever category or specific licensee we’re targeting. I want my contacts to want to open the submissions that come from Blue Sky because they’re relevant to what the manufacturer is doing.  We’re conscious of not wanting to waste anyone’s precious time.

Finally, we use our website and facebook page as much as possible. Our website is up-dated frequently to reflect the newest images and facebook allows for regular up-dates on what’s happening with our artists and licensees.

What do you look for in an Artist?
We look for:
• Applicability of the artwork to a range of products. If I can’t easily visualize it on a minimum of three to four product categories it probably won’t work;
• The artist’s recognition that art licensing is a commercial venture. That means the work may have to follow trends, be altered to suit a licensee’s needs and might not be used at all;
• The artist’s commitment to licensing by producing new work regularly, ability to resist discouragement, and patience, since the payoff can be a long ways out;
• An artist that sees licensing representation as a partnership—neither of us works for the other, but we are working together to build something.

How much work do you expect an artists to create?
I’ve never understood this question. It’s a little like asking ‘How successful do you want to be?’ I know that every artist produces new work at his or her own rate, but the simple answer is the more art that’s produced the greater the likelihood of success. That said, one artist can produce ten pieces that don’t go anywhere, another can produce one that gets licensed all over, so in that case it’s a matter of quality over quantity.

There really is no short answer either, but I will say that Jane Maday, one of Blue Sky’s top artists is also the top producer of new work. She was already an experienced licensed artist when we started working together, but even so, she never stops pushing herself in new directions with techniques and approaches so her licensing program will move into new categories. She treats art licensing as the full-time job that it is and that discipline and ambition are largely responsible for her success

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
When I started in art licensing there was a lot of resistance from manufacturers to using outside artists. Many companies had in-house design staff so they couldn’t see incurring additional expense for something they already had, they felt the accounting was going to be a hassle, and they’d have to increase prices to accommodate the royalty. Then, as it became clear that certain artists like Mary Engelbreit, Susan Winget and some others were selling a lot of product, those attitudes started to shift; before very long a lot of companies had given up their in-house artists and began to rely exclusively on outside artwork.

Then the internet provided a huge shift in the art licensing business. The advent of email and the now ubiquitous image software removed any barriers to entry for would-be art licensors. Many bloggers, Etsy shop owners and individual artists with computer connections are now successful art licensors. There’s more competition, but there are more opportunities as well.

What’s new at Blue Sky Art & Design?
There’s always great new artwork. Jane Maday is at work on a wonderful series of Vintage Journal Sketches that she’s painting in an old ledger bought online. There are already over 40 images of wildlife, Spring, coastal, inspiration, and holiday to name just a few of the themes. Veteran licensed artist Wendy Russell is adding to her Bird Dog series which got an immediate and enthusiastic response when first introduced.

In addition, Blue Sky has recently added several talented, experienced and FUN artists: Swirly Designs, comprised of husband and wife Paul and Lianne Stoddard make bright, colorful and imaginative ornaments from clay. Their work is already being developed for collectibles and gifts. Their images are also translated to flat art for multiple other uses; Nancy Archer is hard at work on new collections of patterns for stationery, fabric, tabletop and more; and artist Barbara Behr, well-known in Germany and new to the American market is making a big impression with her Victoriana collages and imaginative compositions. All this newness keeps things exciting!

You can find Blue Sky Art & Design
Surtex 2017 booth #2824 May 21-23, 2017

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Artist Spotlight - Amy Kirkpatrick


Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught? 
Art became my passion at a very young age. Living in South Florida, my parents set up a little art desk for me to keep myself entertained during their long hours working at a local newspaper they owned. I went through coloring books so fast that my mother finally gave me a stack of blank paper and told me to make my own.

I excelled in art through high school and received a BFA degree from Florida State University in Studio Art with an emphasis in graphic design. My first job was at a check printer, John Harland Company in Atlanta, Georgia. I have since created designs and illustrations for many Fortune 500 companies including high tech companies such as Oracle and Cisco, universities, power companies, hospitals and medical companies, industrial manufacturers, including fashion icons such as Adidas and my personal favorite, Ashworth Golf Wear.

Often my work was done through advertising agencies or design boutiques, but some were full time corporate jobs such as Oracle, where I created illustrations for web-based training. I have designed about every kind of corporate collateral you can think of along with logos, software user interface, and web advertising and design.

In 2000, I began freelancing and found myself often waiting for proofing revisions. To keep myself busy while I waited, I'd paint. I started selling my art on eBay just to see what would happen and they sold! As my confidence and sales have grown, I am only doing graphic design for my own art business now.

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I started out painting with acrylic, but after taking a community class in watercolor, I became forever hooked with the way it blends and blossoms. I absolutely love it.

I have full knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and spend a great deal of time on the computer.

I also do a lot of gel pen drawings. After I bought a pack at Costco on a whim, I fell in love with them. However, I have not released my gel pen drawings, yet. There's the issue of reproduction quality because of their reflective nature, so I do them for my own amusement. I have about 100 finished pieces but they are so different than my watercolor paintings that I'm still deciding the best way to market them.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I am mostly inspired by nature. I love painting living things. I also enjoy taking art classes for inspiration and to be around other artists. I am lucky to live in San Diego with access to world class watercolor teachers and the San Diego Watercolor Society that brings in outstanding visiting artists. This year, I took a class with Charles Reid and for the first time, attempted painting portraits of people. Since then, I found a group of artists that meet every Friday at one of our libraries with uninstructed portrait drawing and painting with live models. It has been great fun.

How did you start licensing your art?
My first big break was with Better Homes & Gardens publications in 2011. I had painted a couple butterflies and shown them to a friend who immediately wanted to buy them. She was planning to remodel her kitchen for a BHG publication. My butterflies became the theme of the remodel and ended up in two magazines as well as online. I decided I better paint more before the magazines came out so I challenged myself to paint 100 butterflies in 100 days. My butterflies were immediately picked up by an art licensing buyer and have been selling worldwide.

More licensing opportunities have come to me directly through my Etsy shop where I sell my originals and signed giclées.

What are you working on now?
I have nearly 600 paintings and always have several I'm working on. I do all the scanning and processing for prints myself which is very time consuming. My goal for 2017 is to get them all scanned so I can begin showing them online. They can't sell if no one can see them! All this while I continue to paint.

I paint what makes me happy and hope my joy shows through to make someone else happy.

Any great advice for our readers?
A friend and I tease that whoever dies with the most paints wins! But in truth, it's not about how many colors you have, but what you can do with the colors you have. My advice is to always be practicing and try to come up with your own unique ideas and style.

The best advice I received when I first started selling was from a gallery sales trainer. He told me to decide what kind of artist I wanted to be. There are many paths an artist can take and each requires a different level of skill, subject, style, and self-promotion. For example, what sells in a gallery won't necessarily sell to a product manufacturer. He was the first person to talk to me about art licensing.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I paint because I love it. I think it may be an addiction. I have so much in my head that I want to paint that sometimes I can become paralyzed with too many ideas. I keep an ongoing list and a sketchbook of my ideas. I surprise myself sometimes when I review them and see something I think is really good that I had forgotten about. I am always grateful for having the forethought to document it, because how many ideas have I lost because I didn't do a quick sketch?

I do not have an agent. I have done very little self-promotion with manufacturers but have been fortunate for those that have found my art and contacted me. My most recent licensing agreement has gotten my art in the wall art section of Wayfair.

Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I am not an early riser. Since my husband gets up at 6:00am, he thinks I've slept half the day away when, as he puts it, I "finally" get up at 8:00am. To me, that's my perk of self-employment.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is Thai food. I love a good Penang curry!

You can find Amy: (Etsy) (Fine Art America)

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Bo's bLAWg - Online Licensing Websites (VIDA / ShopVIDA)

 MJ Bogatin (“Bo”) of Bogatin, Corman & Gold, is an Arts and Entertainment Attorney in San Francisco.  He is also Co-President of California Lawyers for the Arts. Bo is available to answer some of your questions surrounding the business of Art Licensing. - THANKS BO!

I've known several artists approached by VIDA.  I'm attaching their Artist Contract and am wondering what you think of its terms?  Montana

Thanks for your question, Montana.  I have had occasion to consider a few different online licensing websites.  Some, like VIDA, promote themselves as a “Manufacturer on Demand.”  I doubt that they themselves are manufacturers.  They are more likely, the “intermediary.”

I can see how an online website licensing would be an attractive business model to entrepreneurs who have relationships with manufacturers (or their US tradeshow representatives).  If the website can sign up lots of artists, it is possible that they can make a lot of money from the sales of products with artists’ designs, whether to the public – or even more likely, to the very artists whose artwork has been licensed.  Many artists just want to see their work featured on products, from placemats to scarves.  If the online licensee can entice the artists themselves to purchase enough of a given product – and the manufactured product prospects are unlimited -- current digital imaging allows the manufacturer to easily change out designs.  Small quantity orders of a few hundred units can be profitable with overseas, non-union manufacturing, with a generous mark-up on the re-sale of such inventory to artists -- and possibly to retailers.

As for the licensor artists, I suspect that this not an unduly expensive way to obtain a decent inventory of select products bearing their designs.  However, I doubt that there are many commercial success stories generated from sales from these websites.  If I am in error on this, I would like to be informed of it!

When I dig into VIDA’s, not only do I find some very objectionable terms, I also find an emphasis on asking the artist to invest in the purchase of models promoting their pending product line, and discounts available for purchasing $300+ of the merchandise.  If every artist who signs up agrees to the marketing photos and a minimum purchase of select products with their very own designs, clearly, the business model has income potential to the purveyors if not the artists!

Upon signing up with VIDA and uploading two illustrations, it is my understanding that artists are asked to become “a featured designer on VIDA with a Curated Collection.”  In conjunction with this invitation there is an ask for money summarized as follows:

To claim your curated collection, you can use one of two private codes listed.  With “Code Curated 25,” the artist is invited to receive one professional lifestyle photo of a model wearing an item from your collection.  Check out with $300+ worth of merchandise in your cart and enter the promo code, “Curated25” at checkout, and 25% will then be taken off your order.  You will also get a curated collection page with one professional lifestyle photo of a model wearing an item from your collection, and at least one of your products product featured on the VIDA Shop All page with professional lifestyle photography.

If you select Code Curated40, you receive three professional lifestyle photos of a model wearing items from your collection.  Check out with $900+ worth of merchandise in your cart and enter the promo code, “Curated40” at checkout, and 40% will then be taken off your order, and you will get a curated collection page with three lifestyle photos of a model wearing items from your collection, and at least one of your products featured on the VIDA Shop All page with professional lifestyle photography.

Again, this is an extremely limited offering since we can only offer curated collection upgrades to a small group of artists. Since we have limited space for curated collections, we are limiting the availability to upgrade your collection until just October 30th, only 4 more days.”

This promotional material is said to be “extremely limited,” but as far as I know, it has been posted indefinitely.

Of critical importance, as always for me, are the terms that are imposed by the website licensee on the artist who clicks “Agree.”  As for the VIDA Agreement, , I have a number of concerns about its terms, many of which are wholly objectionable.

With reference to my prior Basic Licensing Terms bLAWg, , note first that the grant of rights to any images uploaded is immediately “exclusive and perpetual.”  This means that whether or not anything is made of the artist’s imagery, (and there is no guarantee that there will be!), the artist has no further right of use to it for licensing purposes!

Furthermore, the artist gives up any right to object to the way in which her imagery may be used on any given product – by itself or in combination with other imagery -- or the quality of the product itself!

While VIDA requires the artist to provide their photograph and biographical material, there is no obligation on VIDA’s part that it will post or use this information in conjunction with its promotional efforts on behalf of such artist. To the contrary, in an accompanying “Plain English Terms” explanation of the Agreement, VIDA makes clear that artist imagery may be used without a copyright notice or artists brand or logo.  This not only deprives the artist of a key reason for licensing her imagery, but suggests to the public that there is no copyright claimed on the imagery used on the products, and the prospect of unlimited “innocent infringement” with minimal damage claims despite artist’s registered copyright.

A Ten Percent is offered on VIDA’s “Net Sales.”  Revealingly, this 10% is offered as a “sales commission” to the artist rather than a royalty.  By calling it a “sales commission,” clearly VIDA expects the artist to be the seller – not VIDA or retailers to which it is ostensibly marketing the products.

The Net Sales definition includes “discounts” and “bad debts,” neither or which would the artist have any control over.  Too bad if it was Uncle Lenny who failed to pay for those 500 units that he bought wholesale for resale to retailers of his acquaintance(!)   And to make matters even worse, the VIDA Agreement expressly rejects any obligation to verify its listed sales information or an audit, both of which are standard provisions in legitimate licensing deals.

If these particular provisions are not bad enough, VIDA then states that it “reserves the right to change these terms at any time.”  Somehow, I doubt such changes will be for VIDA artists’ benefit!

It is my understanding that there are a number of such online businesses including Society6, RedBubble, Art of Where, Minted and Bucketfeet.  If you have questions about their contract terms, I’d be pleased to comment on those as well.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this website is not intended and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Because the law is not static, and one situation will differ from the next, the results will differ as well, thus we do not assume responsibility for any actions taken based on any information contained herein. Also, be aware that the laws vary from state to state. Therefore, this website cannot replace the advice of an experienced attorney who practices within the jurisdiction involved in your issue or dispute. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. MJ Bogatin, Bogatin, Corman & Gold
© 2017 mjbogatin

Have a legal question? email it to I will forward it to Bo. It might be a blog post! You can search "Bo's bLAWg" to read more posts. I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.


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Friday, January 6, 2017

Spotlight on All Art Licensing, J’net Smith


First tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in Salem, Oregon. It was a wonderful childhood full of 4-H, beach combing, boating and fishing with my Dad and brother, and crafting and painting with my mother. I graduated with a combined B.S. in journalism and marketing.  After a few years at a Seattle ad agency, I moved without a job to NYC to expand my horizons and see what I could do with my life. I worked for a major travel publisher for the first five years and travelled the world, usually taking 10-12 international trips a year. It was a blast! When I went to work for the president of Macmillan Publishing, I began licensing an English as a Second Language television course in conjunction with the USIA (United States Information Agency). This is where I learned about the global power of licensing.

I pursued a job at United Media (the licensing division of United Feature Syndicate), where all the licensing for Peanuts was done at the time. After being hired, I was asked to work on all the lesser known characters, including Nancy and Sluggo, Marmaduke, Over the Hedge and Dilbert.  I built the Dilbert business from its infancy into the first corporate global icon, generating more than $200 million a year in sales in more than 45 countries.

After seven years at United Media, three years as Vice President Licensing, I decided to start my own business and moved back to the West Coast, where I also started my family. My husband, Ric, and I have a son who just turned 12. At first I worked under the name J’net Smith Inc. and in 2006, I created All Art Licensing.

Would you please summarize all that you do!
All Art Licensing has two divisions, the ABC School of Licensing, which is currently still in development and includes all of our video and audio products, live classes, eBooks, templates and other educational elements, and our personal services which fall primarily into 3 categories – coaching (I help you decide what needs to be done and teach you how to do it yourself, often providing contacts and information), consulting (I do the work for you) and agenting (I occasionally still represent artists, cartoonists, brands, authors and other creatives to market their work to manufacturers, producers, retailers and others in the position to license their work).

I am first and foremost a brand developer. With all clients, whether artists, cartoonists, authors and other creators, I help them envision the big picture and then find the most efficient pathway to generate money with their creativity and IP (intellectual property). I can also help them do it. A lot of what I do is eliminate hours of unnecessary work with information, knowledge and connections. I love working with artists and getting them ready for the million-dollar deal, also helping them learn how to become less vulnerable and realize that they have the power to do anything they want!

Do you have employees/help?
Yes. I have a number of people I work with on a daily basis, both in my office and through virtual connections. In addition, I have strategic partnerships with designers, cartoonists, manufacturers, retailers, publishers, producers, attorneys, videographers, specialized agents, publicist, webmasters and other experts in their fields, whom I call on for all types of projects.  No one is an island, you need relationships and the right connections to get the job done.

How does Agenting and or Consulting/Coaching work if an artist comes to you for help? What do you look for in an artist/character/brand?
When a creator comes to me they usually have an idea of how they want to work. If they are looking for an agent, they say so up front. Agents work on a percentage of the licensing revenue that they bring in for a client and the commission share can vary widely.  I try to be very reasonable, and I take on only a few clients at a time. For consulting work, the client usually comes with an idea of what they are looking for and ask if X number of hours will do the job. I guide them, so that they get the most bang for the buck. Often what they think they need/want is different from what they actually need/want. We work through that in the most economical way possible.

The difference between consulting and coaching is that in consulting I do the work for the client, whereas in coaching I teach and guide the creator so that they can save money and do a lot of it themselves.  Honestly, people have talents they aren’t even aware of...and I like to drill down to see what and how much they can do, and want to do.  With the right guidance at those critical junctures, many people can do far more than they ever imagined!  I have many clients who have been with me for years. They often come once or twice a year for direction and guidance, or for a specific purpose, such as advice on a contract or to prepare for a negotiation.  Whatever help they request and need, that’s what I do.

Artists sometimes come to me for coaching, but if I see they need basic licensing education before entering into the licensing arena, this is why I am developing the ABC School of Licensing courses. The video courses and eBooks provide very detailed industry knowledge and ‘how to’ information at a price-point that the average artist can afford. I wouldn’t want to steer an artist toward investing in personal coaching, if they can get the information in a more economical format.

What I look for in an artist/character/brand varies greatly.  I am very interested in artists and designers with a specific style and bent, especially those who are on the cutting edge of trends or those who cover a multitude of themes in their work.   It’s really exciting to find prolific creators, who also have technical skills. For characters. I look for a well-thought-out concept that has a unique niche.  Whether art or characters, knowing your target audience is key.  And, of course, I love finding those creators with pure raw talent.

How has the Art Licensing business changed over the years?
Oh, it’s changed quite a bit since I started. 
First of all, there is a lot more information available to artists wanting to get into this business. But I find that creators need more help than ever sorting through the information, identifying what’s valuable (will make money) and making sense of it all.  A coaching session 1-2x a year can help a great deal, especially when you have decided to market yourself and not utilize the services of an agent.  Or to help you find the right agent.

Second, there is a lot more competition in the marketplace today with more artists than ever wanting to get into the art licensing industry, while many manufacturers continue to be risk-adverse and scared to try new artists and brands.

Third, the technological advances in the last ten years have made a huge impact on what you can do as an artist.  From being able to create your own website and product store to print-on-demand manufacturing opportunities and the ability to broadcast art, cartoons and all types of content to the world platform vs. a local stage.  Again, literally, mind-bogglingly amazing!  It creates a huge playing field, as never experienced before.  For those who are up to the challenges, it’s incredibly exciting.

What sort of resources do you offer?
I think one of the biggest resources All Art Licensing offers, in addition to our training, strategic planning, brand development, contract advice and negotiation services—to name a few—is our eighty free Minicourses available on our website.  Each one is a question I answer, from artists around the world – a kind of bite-size class available all day, every day for everyone.  Scroll through the questions and I’m sure you will find something of interest that you can learn from. I find many creators, that are new to licensing, don’t even know what questions to ask and which questions and answers will be most valuable. The Minicourses give you a fantastic place to start and everyone can get a feel for the quality and type of information and advice I provide. We are also offering a great deal of information through our social media platforms.

Any great news you would like to share?
Yes, as a matter of fact, All Art Licensing is creating more training courses and will have more products available in more different learning modes than ever (streaming, video, audio, chat, conferences, etc.), under our new moniker of ABC School of Licensing (A=Art, B=Brands, C=Characters), so please watch as we develop this over the coming year. And I would love to hear from your readers what challenges them and what they want to learn about most. 

Any advice or information you would like to share?
I would recommend creators get advice on how to grow their business sooner rather than later…and focus. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you focus, execute and then move on to the next target, rather than taking a shotgun approach and just seeing what you can hit.

You can find J’net


Note: J'net will be answering question live on February 9th in my 2nd Thursdays text chat group on ALL paid members of are welcome to join us! Send your questions to me, or post then in the comments below.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Bo's bLAWg - Change in DMCA Designated Agents & Takedown Notices

December 1, 2016 Registration Process change 

MJ Bogatin (“Bo”) of Bogatin, Corman & Gold, is an Arts and Entertainment Attorney in San Francisco.  He is also Co-President of California Lawyers for the Arts. Bo is available to answer some of your questions surrounding the business of Art Licensing. - THANKS BO!

If you run a web page that allows posting of any user-generated content (even comments), it is very important that you have a DMCA Agent designated to handle takedown notice requests and disputes so you are protected under the DMCA safe-harbor provisions. Any operator of such a website is deemed a “Service Provider.”  If a Service Provider does not have a registered designated agent and material is posted by one of your Users that infringes a third party’s copyright interest or other rights (i.e. a defamatory statement or violation of a third party’s right to privacy or trademark), then you can be personally liable as the publisher of such material!

However, as long as you as the Service Provider does not actively participate in the illegal posting, or make copies, or determine to whom it is to be shared other than by and through ‘passive’ operation of the website or online bulletin board, then the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) offers the Service provider legal protection from liability, known as “Safe Harbor,” but only if the Service provider has listed a Designated Agent to receive objections and act in a proper manner with respect to removal of improper postings.
(See: )

As you may already be aware, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and all the major internet Service Providers have posted Terms of Use that include pages that detail how a person who objects to posted content is to notify them.  Perhaps you have had occasion to pursue such a process yourself when one of your copyrighted works was posted by a third party without your permission.  The removal request process involves sending what is called a “Takedown Notice.”  The specific content of the Takedown Notice is set out in online procedures such as this YouTube page:

However, most website operators are not large enough to have fulltime staff to handle takedown notices.  In the absence of specific Takedown Notice procedures, the DMCA sets up a process whereby the website proprietors can register their agent with the US Copyright Office to be contacted for this purpose.  Simply by designating the agent and making sure the agent acts reasonably and responsibly upon receipt of complaints and/or a Takedown Notice, insures that the website owner Service Provider will not be held liable as a publisher of the illegal or offensive content.

Since 1998, Service Providers have submitted paper designations to the Copyright Office, which the Office then scanned and posted on the Office’s website to make them available to the public. Modernizing this practice, the Office has created a new, fully-electronic online system through which Service Providers can more efficiently submit and update, and the public can more easily search for and find, Designated Agent information. The amended rules govern Service Provider use of the new system and update what is required of Service Providers to remain compliant with 17 USC 512(c)(2) for Safe Harbor purposes.

On Dec. 1, 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office launched its new electronic system to designate and search for agents to receive notifications of claimed infringement.  Going forward, all new DMCA takedown notice agent designations must now be made through the online registration system. Additionally, any service provider that has previously designated an agent with the Copyright Office through the old paper-based system will have until December 31, 2017, to submit a new designation electronically through the new system. Until that time, an accurate designation in the old paper-generated directory will continue to satisfy the service provider’s obligations under 17 USC 512(c)(2).

You can access the new system at:

These DMCA filings will expire every three years, so they will need to be renewed.  The Copyright Office’s new system is supposed to send out email reminders.  We’ll see about that(!)
Filing fees are significantly lower than they were previously:  now $6 per entity.  All alternative names that the public would be likely to use to search for the Service Provider’s Designated Agent must be provided.  There is no limit to the number of alternative names, URLs, service names, software names, and other commonly used names that can be listed on a Service Provider’s filing for this fee.  However, separate legal entities must file separately and are not considered alternative names.

The Designated Agent does not have to be a natural (living) person. Service Providers now have the option to designate a specific person (e.g., Jane Doe), specific position or title of an individual (e.g., Copyright Manager), a department within the Service Provider’s organization or even a third-party entity (e.g., ACME Takedown Service) retained to handle Takedown Notices.

The Designated Agent’s physical mail address, telephone number and email address must be provided to the Copyright Office, and a Designated Agent may now provide a post office box to be displayed as its physical address. However, in a nod to technological obsolescence, a fax number is no longer required.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is not intended as legal advice. Because the law is not static, and one situation may differ from the next, we cannot assume responsibility for any actions taken based on information contained herein. Also, be aware that the law may vary from state. Therefore, this website cannot replace the advice of an experienced attorney. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. MJ Bogatin, Bogatin, Corman & Gold,

© 2016 MJ Bogatin

Have a legal question? email it to I will forward it to Bo. It might be a blog post! You can search "Bo's bLAWg" to read more posts. I am looking forward to your comments and thanks for sharing this great information on social media.


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Artist Spotlight - Steph Calvert


Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught? 
I was the arty kid back in school; I can still remember getting in trouble in seventh grade for looking out the window and drawing instead of paying attention in class. Strangely enough, in high school I was fighting that and seriously thinking about going to school to be a vet - I even took classes like Latin (nerd alert!) that I thought would be helpful in college...

And then junior year, I remembered that vets deal with blood and needles.

So that was the end of that.

I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a BFA in computer art in the spring of 1999, focusing on 2D hand drawn animation. When I came out of school, there was less and less traditional animation positions - especially for a newbie with no work experience - so I've been adapting my skills ever since.

I've worked as an in-house artist for OshKosh B'Gosh, I've illustrated two travel themed coloring books, and most recently I've created repeat patterns and t-shirt graphics for Kohl's as well as created a custom pizza box for a client that's literally COVERED with hand lettering and fun drawings! There's some really exciting new opportunities that have been coming in, but it's a tad too early to mention specifics. 

Do you work in just one medium? Several?
As I've grown with my art over the years, fresh techniques get added to my process. Within the last year I feel like I've really honed in on my "style". It's all about digital painting in Photoshop, mixing in layers of hand lettering created with either paint or markers, and bringing lots of hand drawn or painted textures to the party. It's a great way to create pieces that are easy to work with on the production side of things, but I'm not chained to the computer every step of the way.

20+ years of creating artwork professionally on computers has left me always thinking and creating in layers and workability for production. When I draw with markers or paint in traditional media - acrylics, watercolors, or gouache, I usually play around on paper, and then scan everything into the computer at as high a resolution as possible and pull together my finished pieces there. Live trace, vector bits, and smart objects are my best friends. Outside of my husband of course.

I really like the control I have in Photoshop - I can call out specific Pantones, I can get more precise, I can edit that one little stray line that isn't quite working with the rest of the piece. Most importantly, everything and I mean everything is separated out into layers so I can go back and change things easily. Photoshop gives my clients peace of mind knowing the ease of production and editing they'll experience while working with me.

What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
I pull so much inspiration from my life! I've been a self employed work at home mom since our son Phil was born in 2010. Nowadays, he's in kindergarten, but his little sister Joy will be in the studio with me until she starts pre-K in a couple of years. My family is hilarious - there's lots to get inspired by.

My latest collection for licensing, This is Halloween, is inspired by some decorations my son Phil and I bought ages ago at a dollar store. My kids love the fun characters and the bright happy colors - even though those little cardboard cutouts have taken a serious beating over the years, they HAVE to have them on the walls every year! I wanted to create a group that made kids smile just as much, in colors that were classic and easy to work with alongside someone's existing Halloween home decor. I've also got a few kids book ideas on tap based on funny things that we've experienced as parents, and don't even get me started on all of the greeting card designs I'm starting to work up based on hilarious one liners that have been blurted out in our house over the years!

How did you start licensing your art?
As I ventured on the path of self employment, I was finding more and more clients were asking for web design. I was happy to oblige; I was great at it and the paycheck was fairly steady. But over time, I was finding that I was becoming more and more unhappy with my work. I missed drawing. About a year ago, I slowly started to pull away from web design; I took advantage of the Black Friday deal on some Make Art that Sells courses from Lilla Rogers, I worked my way through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and actually stuck it out through all twelve weeks over the summer... taking the leap of faith is really what helped push me towards art licensing.

What are you working on now?
I'm wrapping up 2016 with lots of great Christmas art that'll be available for licensing, and I'm fine tuning what art I'll be working on each month for 2017. I'm playing with the idea of working within a theme for each month, a month ahead of time. So January I'll work on all things love, so I have lots of great Valentine's theme art to share all February long.

I'm also honing in on what I want my Instagram feed to look like, because that's a great way to get exposure. The balance for me is to share enough to get art directors interested, without giving away the really good stuff. One of my strengths after so much time spent working as an apparel illustrator is coming up with funny sayings that haven't been totally overused in the marketplace. It's been interesting trying to figure out how to share without sharing too much if that makes sense.

Any great advice for our readers?
Failure is for quitters - if you don't ever give up on your art, you'll never fail.

Before I shifted focus to my illustration work, there was a lot of things I was pretty attached to - like my old business name. As I started working with my agent, I quickly started to realize that if I wanted real and drastic change in my career, I needed to be as open as possible to that change! Here we are six months later - I've got a new website, a growing portfolio that's finally showing a cohesive and distinct style, and lots of prospective projects on the horizon. None of this would have been possible if I stubbornly held on to the old ways.

And keep in mind - an illustration agent isn't the silver bullet that is going to make a deluge of work come busting down your door the second you sign on. When you connect with an agent, marketing your work is still your responsibility, but now the exciting thing is you're part of a team. There's more than one of you working on bringing in projects and licensing deals - they're an advocate for you if a project goes south, and can be an amazing sounding board as you work through the direction your career needs to take. My agent Liz Sanders has been so key in helping to shape my illustration adventure!

Anything else you would like to share with us?
I'm always learning something new - it keeps things interesting. A couple of months ago my friend Kim and I took an oil painting class for the first time, and we were hooked! I don't know how well oils would work for art licensing since it takes such a long time for the paint to dry, but I'm definitely continuing to explore this medium moving forward.

I have a group of artwork that'll be seen on girls t-shirts in Kohls in Spring 2017, and I'll also be working on a kids book pitch for one of my many ideas to start shopping around next year. I'm looking forward to connecting with a literary agent that works with illustrator authors for some really fun titles!
Are you an early riser? or night owl?

As much as I'd love to be a night owl... I'm definitely an early bird. Even when the kids don't wake up horrendously early on a summer morning, I'm still wide awake by 8am.

The upside? There's coffee.
What is your favorite food?

All of it... Is all of it an answer?

I just like snacks is all.

But if I had to narrow it down...

I'd have to say cookies, coffee, macarons, chocolate, pizza, chips, salsa, donuts, cakes, pies, ice cream, fried chicken, cream puffs, bacon, marshmallows, Jelly Bellys, burritos, hamburgers, spaghetti, crab legs, charcuterie plates, grilled cheese sandwiches, quiche, soup, deep fried Oreos, deviled eggs, the candy parts of trail mix, midnight pancake parties, muffins, steak, and all you can eat buffets. And cheesecake.

You can find Steph:
Liz Sanders Agency:

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