Saturday, November 15, 2008

Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) Sues Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA) UPDATED

UPDATE: Just received confirmation that this dreadful news is true from Cynthia Turner and Ken Dubrowski. Thanks for letting me know, Cynthia and Ken.

Honestly, I really was wishing that this was going to appear on Snopes as a hoax. Sadly, it is all true.

You want crazier than the "Batman v. Batman" lawsuit?

Below is what I've gotten from a reliable source (which I'll name once I get verification and permission from the source to use his/her name). I couldn't verify this last night. Maybe I can today. I can only hope this isn't true. It sounds too goofy to be true.

Below is the unverified press release. Can anyone tell me this is true/not true/kinda true/whatever?

Wednesday November 12, 2008

Graphic Artists Guild Sues Artists!

Dear Fellow Creative,

As working artists we assume threats from outside our creative community are a given. The news that the Graphic Artist Guild (GAG), which purports to be an organization 'supporting artists' rights', has filed a lawsuit against fellow artists IS SIMPLY OUTRAGEOUS!


GRAPHIC ARTISTS GUILD SUES ARTISTS The Illustrators Partnership of America and 5 individuals have* been served with a lawsuit by the Graphic Artists Guild, claiming damages of a million dollars and demanding that a court order IPA to cease and desist from supposedly defamatory public comments about GAG's activities and use of industry reprographic royalties, even when IPA is merely quoting GAG's own statements. The Complaint alleges that IPA, by bringing together 13 diverse illustrators organizations with the goal of creating an illustrators rights collecting society, is wrongfully interfering with GAG's current claim on foreign royalties, calling it an effort to 'siphon off' money from GAG. The Complaint specifically alleges that IPA and IPA members defamed GAG by a verbatim reading of minutes from a GAG steering committee meeting at which GAG's President reported on their organization's use of foreign funds. IPA's statements relied on public assertions by GAG's officers that GAG does not have to account for its use of artists' reprographic royalties. Reprographic royalties are funds derived from the photocopying of material by published authors. In many other countries, illustrators receive royalties from collecting societies for the photocopying of their work. In the US, they do not, because currently, no such collecting society exists. IPA denies that its comments are defamatory, as it has relied on and reported GAG's own statements verbatim. IPA seeks an understanding of GAG's activities and transparency about GAG's use of these funds. IPA has retained legal counsel and will respond to the Complaint in an appropriate manner.

The individuals named in the lawsuit are:

Artist Brad Holland, Founding Director of Illustrators' Partnership and Co-Chair American Society of Illustrators Partnership;

Medical illustrator Cynthia Turner, Director, Illustrators' Partnership and Co- Chair American Society of Illustrators Partnership;

Terrence Brown, Executive Director, American Society of Illustrators Partnership;

Renowned intellectual property attorney Bruce Lehman, Founding Director of Illustrators' Partnership and Counsel to American Society of Illustrators Partnership;

Commercial illustrator Ken Dubrowski, Director of Operations, Illustrators' Partnership.

That the Graphic Artists Guild has chosen to file suit against the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA) and the very artists who've led the on-going fight against the Orphan Works bill, which the Guild has supported, leaves us questioning, 'Why a lawsuit against fellow artists'?...'Why now'?...

To be clear, some of us are members of the IPA and/or GAG, but this request is non-partisan. For those who were once proud members of GAG, this public stance opposing GAG is a difficult one. We support all voices working on behalf of artists, but we speak with a unified voice as friends and colleagues within the creative community against this lawsuit. We fear our silence now would be misconstrued as agreement with this action by the GAG.

This suit looks as if it is meant to punish and silence, through fear and intimidation, not only those whose names are listed on it, but ALL artists who dare to publicly question, disagree with or work in opposition to the Graphic Artists Guild. We speak out in support of open debate and for greater accountability from all groups who claim to represent our interests both here and abroad. At a time when we artists are facing serious challenges this lawsuit from an organization supporting artists� rights is a misguided distraction our community cannot afford.

We respectfully call upon the Graphic Artists Guild to immediately withdraw its lawsuit against the Illustrators Partnership of America (IPA), and the following individual artists; Brad Holland, Cynthia Turner, Ken Dubrowski, executive Terrence Brown, and attorney Bruce Lehman.

We ask all creators to make their voices heard NOW. If you agree that this lawsuit is wrong, then please add your name, affiliation, and comment below and email to and pass it along to other artists for their signature and support. Once a sufficient number of signers have been collected we will send this petition to all interested parties.


Daniel Vasconcellos, Illustrator since 1986, GAG member 1986-2003, GAG-Boston President 1988-1990, IPA member 2000 - present

Richard A. Goldberg Illustrator since 1980, GAG member 1980-2003, GAG Boston Chapter President 2001-2003; IPA member 1999-present. The GAG supporting the Orphan Works Bill was bad enough but with this lawsuit I am compelled to publicly condemn the GAG

Alan Witschonke Illustrator, GAG member approx. 1980-2003; Chair of Grievance Committee, Boston Chapter, approx. 1982-1987; Co-Vice President, Boston Chapter, 2001-2003. Joined IPA approx. 2000.

Sharon Kurlansky, Agency Director / Laughing Stock, 1993 to present. Stock agent to over 135 artists. Former GAG member, Former PACA member. GAG�s support of the Orpan Rights Bill is a very troubling breach in their mandate to support artists� rights and severely weakens and subverts current copyright protections afforded creators. Their suit against the IPA and named artists is another damaging and unmitigated move against the artist community.

Hal Mayforth Illustrator since 1982, GAG member 1982-2003, Founding member IPA

James Steinberg Illustrator since 1980, GAG member 1982-2002, GAG Boston National Rep 1985-1986, IPA member 1999-2002

John S. Dykes Illustrator since 1984, Past GAG member, Member IPA 2000 - present.

Gary Taxali Illustrator Since 1991, CAPIC Member from 1992 - 2007, Founding Member, IPA

Tamar Haber-Schaim Illustrator since 1985, GAG Boston Chairman Events Committee 1986, GAG member approx. 1985 - 1998, Attendee of annual meetings EIF (European Illustrators Forum) 2006, 2007

Donald B. Johnson Working illustrator since 1978, former GAG member, Society of Illustrators member. I opposed the Orphan Works Bill and am very unhappy with the recent positions taken by GAG. What has happened to the inspiring organization that got us all started in the illustration business?

Elizabeth Traynor Working illustrator since 1981, member of The Society of Illustrators, Illustration professor. Shame on GAG. This lawsuit is an insult to the worldwide community of illustrators and artists. The alleged actions by GAG concerning Reprographic Royalties as well as this attack on the IPA seem stunningly illogical; is their best defense this destructive offense?

Robert Saunders Illustrator since 1980; Editor/Designer GAG Boston Update 2002; Executive Committee 1998-2001; Boston Chapter President, Acting 1986-1988; Chapter Vice President 1985-1986; Chapter Representative to Nat�l Board 1984-1985; Contract Committee member and Advertising Committee Chair ca 2000; 23-year ca GAG member; Former IPA member

Jim Roldan 20+ years as a free lance illustrator, current steering committee member and past president of the New Hampshire Creative Club I sincerely believe that pursuing this lawsuit will do far more to defame the Graphic Artists Guild's reputation and standing in the industry than any correspondence I could have ever received from the IPA. The absence of any information on the Guild website re: this issue makes me question whether the membership at large is even aware of the drastic steps being taken by Guild officers in their name and how any member could condone such a draconian effort to stifle legitimate dissent within the industry.

Blair Thornley Illustrator since 1982, GAG member 1994-2001, IPA member 2000 - present. I think it�s important to be clear that GAG is NOT the official, legal, or moral representative of American Illustrators. I do not want the rest of the legal system in this country or elsewhere assuming that they speak for us.

Rob Dunlavey GAG Member 1987-2004. Practicing illustrator 1985- present

Leo Espinosa Illustrator Since 1996.


rag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rag said...

Hi Mike:

Unfortunately this is very true. It is an outrage to all graphic artists. Please have your blog readers send their names and comments supporting this petition to:

We will add their names and present the petition to the Guild to try to convince them to drop this suit.

Richard A Goldberg

Mark Anderson said...


Anonymous said...


Boy, do you have this turned around!

It is Brad Holland and his IPA that have been attacking the Guild since the IPA started. The Guild has tried and tried to work with them on common goals, but the IPA has repeatedly been unprofessional and irresponsible, making outlandish charges and picking fights.

Enough is enough. I'm SO glad to see that the Guild is finally standing up to those loudmouth bullies.

Daniel Vasconcellos said...

Mr. Bill,

With all due respect, it's obvious you strongly support the Guild's $1,000,000.00 lawsuit against these individual artists. However, your impressive laundry list of claims without supportive documentation looks like a rather 'partisan' account of the past 8 years.

Artists reading this deserve better than to have their intelligence insulted by such a simplistic accounting. It serves no one in our community, and surely does nothing to advance the issues facing all artists.

We're all better than this.

Daniel Vasconcellos

-- You're not, by any chance, the same Bill who complained on Drawger that the Petition is 'partisan' are you?...

ArtChee said...


I have known Brad Holland for over 45 years. No one is more straight forward or sincere. To suggest that Holland would be "unprofessional and irresponsible" is the farthest thing from the truth. Brad served ALL creative artists in his battle against the Orphan Works Bill, at much personal sacrifice.

Once again he is standing up for artists' rights. The GAG suit was thrown out once, and will likely be again.