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Rob Tornoe: Je Suis not getting paid

Editorial cartoonist Rob Tornoe found his cartoon (above) responding the to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo had gone viral and even ended up in print publications – without permission or compensation.

Then, I open up Friday?s edition of the New York Daily News and what do I see? My cartoon, printed in a round-up on page five, without asking permission, paying a royalty or seeking comment. So far, my emails and invoices have been ignored the same as the legal copyright of my work. At least they?re consistent.

The Daily Beast, not satisfied with embedding my tweet, simply took my cartoon and placed it in a gallery with other cartoons about the attack. It received 25,000 likes on Facebook, so it was popular with readers. Just not popular enough to pay for or seek permission to run.

Such irony about how the global response has been how important and loved cartoons are, but in American, they still won’t pay for them.

Community Comments

#1 Steve Artley
January/13/2015
@ 10:16 am

Rob, send them a nice letter thanking them kindly for electing to use your rendering in their publication and attach an invoice.

#2 Scott Stantis
January/13/2015
@ 1:57 pm

Just think of the exposure, Rob!

#3 Sara Thaves
January/13/2015
@ 2:54 pm

Twitter’s terms of service support this. When one sends a tweet, Twitter is thereby granted very broad rights to the content of that tweet …. on a royalty-free basis. The experience with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons helped to bring this to light.

Cartoonists are particularly vulnerable to the Twitter TOS given that their genre is one of a few that may be fully exploited via Twitter. Movies? no. Columns? No. Images? Yes. Going forward, I hope that more cartoonists include links to their cartoons as opposed to images. This will help to protect their own work and, in the process, to support the value of all cartoons.

Twitter’s terms of service are here: https://twitter.com/tos

#4 Sara Thaves
January/13/2015
@ 2:57 pm

And – kudos to Matt Bors and Jen Sorensen for noting this and for paying for the content that they use. Of course, they are not the only sites to pay … but the perception that cartoons = free is certainly wider than it ought to be.

#5 Rob Tornoe
January/13/2015
@ 6:34 pm

Sara, strictly speaking that’s not 100 percent accurate. When you post your images on Twitter, you’re granting them a “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense).” It basically covers the ability of publishers to use Twitter’s content on their websites, which means embedded, re-tweeting, etc.

Posting to Twitter does not give anyone license to just take your work and repost it. So while newspaper websites are allowed to post round-ups by embedding Tweets, they are not allowed to take your image and throw it into a gallery without any embed from Twitter.

#6 Sara Thaves
January/13/2015
@ 8:50 pm

Could be, Rob. There may be something I’m missing. If I understand what you’re saying, a website can embed a cartoon if it is tweeted by the cartoonist. Have I tracked on that correctly? If so, I”m not sure I follow the point about re-posting.

Either way … Somewhat ironically, it was your cartoon on this page that helped to bring this issue to the forefront for me: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/media-dont-glorify-charlie-hebdo-racism-support-cartoonists-exploiting

It notes that you were paid for this by Erin Polgren – which is great. And, at the same time, the “Editor’s Note” explains “In line with our standard editorial practice and Twitter?s terms of use, yesterday TPM embedded tweets of editorial cartoons which had been tweeted and thus shared by the artists themselves.” In other words, we used cartoons we obtained via Twitter for free.

As you noted, Rob, Twitter’s TOS does provide for sub-licensing and royalty-free usage. The complete paragraph reads: You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).”

This poses a real challenge for cartoonists. Setting aside the question about the extent to which a cartoon that is tweeted may be used, there is no question that embedding leads to fewer opportunities for licensed cartoons. Twitter has been helpful for some especially given that Twitter is great for timely content. But – tweeter beware – Twitter has written their license to put their interest way, way, way ahead of yours. The TOS gives Twitter and sub-licensees the ability to generate revenue from a cartoonist’s work without recognizing the cartoonist’s interest in their work.

I’ve probably said too much – and we haven’t even touched on the “adapt, modify” part of the license.

#7 Darrin Bell
January/15/2015
@ 10:02 am

Same thing happened to me. Lesson learned, no more tweeting anything but links.

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