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AAEC editorial cartoonists cracking down on bloggers (Updated)

Many bloggers posting editorial cartoons on their blogs without approval from the cartoonist are being told to stop or risk legal action according to Bob Geiger a blogger who was recently contacted by several cartoonists for his weekly posting of editorial cartoons. He wrote:

I have bad news and I have good news. First the bad: An “outreach” effort has begun on the part of some cartoonists affiliated with the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) and aimed at bloggers — including yours truly — who occasionally run the cartoons on their blogs. The message, at least to me, has been blunt and to the point, including threatening legal action if I continue to publish editorial cartoons without express permission of each artist.

According to Nick Anderson (who has granted Bob permission to post his work, but was not one of the protesters), some AAEC members have been concerned about this common practice and that the AAEC is responding.

On the AAEC web site when a user hovers their mouse over a cartoon the following warning appears:

WARNING: All images on this website are protected under copyright law. You may not use this image IN ANY FORMAT without the express permission of the copyright holder.

Instructions are also given on how to contact the artist for permission.

Nick also says the AAEC is working on an official letter that will be sent to bloggers who continue to violate the copyright.

UPDATE: Received an email from Bob and I wanted to clarify one item regarding this issue. I’m using Bob as an example blogger because it was his blog that tipped me off to the cease and desist notices being sent out. In Bob’s case, he has agreed to stop posting editorial cartoons unless he has permission. So far he has secured permission to post Nick’s cartoons and “two others” in return giving them publicity.

UPDATE #2: I’ve had a couple more email exchanges with Bob and have also been contacted by JP Trostle who is the AAEC Minster of Information (really that’s his title). JP made it clear that his email was not the official response of the AAEC – but merely his reaction as one who saw the copyright argument unfold. Rather than write out a point by point chronology of events, I thought I’d correct or clarify some things that I’ve posted before.

Firstly, Bob has seen the error of his ways and is now seeking permission to post individual cartoonists work on his blog as I’ve reported. But it would be also fair to note that Bob wasn’t the fastest train on the track to come to this conclusion. There were five other bloggers who were contacted and once informed of their misdeeds have made amends and the issue was resolved. It took some “communicating” before Bob got the message (from his lawyer). It seems the issue, at least this round, has been laid to rest and I’m not going to belabor the issue, but this has spurred the AAEC to begin drafting an official response that will be communicated to bloggers and others who are posting editorial cartoons without permission. I’ll post it when I get a copy of it.

Community Comments

#1 Bob Geiger
@ 2:54 pm


I want to use this space to clarify that it did not take any “communicating” for me to “get the message” because the message, according to my publisher’s lawyer, is still largely uncharted legal territory.

The only advice I received was that taking even the most remote chance of legal entanglement over something like cartoons was not worth my time and I was advised to approach this in a different way based purely on that.

The communication I received from an AAEC member was so entirely obnoxious that it did nothing whatsoever to sway me and reinforced that if bloggers and cartoonists are going to forge a mutually-beneficial relationship, it is better handled with diplomacy than threats and condescending language.

So far, I have had a wonderful interaction with a number of AAEC members and working in cooperation with them is both a privilege and a pleasure.

Let’s hope other cartoonists and bloggers can move forward in a similar spirit.


#2 Martin Wisse
@ 6:38 pm

What are we talking about here, bloggers who daily post one or more cartoons without permission just to post cartoons, or bloggers who use the occasional cartoon because they like it or it fits in with a subject they are writing about or bloggers who then comment on said cartoon?

Only in the first case would I agree with this action of sending cease and desist notices, even if the aaec is within its rights to do so in the second case, it will make them look like assholes.
(The third is of course fair use, so their little warnings have no merit.)

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