Published Fall '00 in SCBWI Metro newsletter "Illustrators'
Conde Nast, rights and YOU!
To this day, over 30 years later, I still remember my trip into Conde Nast's NY offices. A newly graduated art major, lugging her oversized, fine arts portfolio around the streets hoping to find work in THE CITY. And, OH, how I wanted to work for Conde Nast: THE magazine company! Glamour, Mademoiselle, GQ, Gourmet, Vogue, Allure, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, House & Garden, Brides etc. WOW! I ended up working for Family Circle (Life/Look) instead, and today I'm so oddly relieved. As it turns out, I personally feel that Conde Nast has let ALL of its many illustration and photographic contributors down.
As per the Graphic Artists Guild cover letter: "Since it first appeared, the Graphic Artists Guild has warned its members and the public about the unfavorable conditions imposed by Conde Nast Publications through its Freelance Artist Agreement. The retroactive contract requires a grant of all rights throughout the universe, including the right to re-license works to third parties. That licensing has become a reality with launch of the new Conde Nast Archive. The Conde Nast Archive goes beyond unpaid re-use of your images by Conde Nast itself. The Archive will re-license the images to which Conde Nast holds rights to other potential clients ...without any portion of the licensing fees going to the artists and photographers who made them."
Whether or not you have worked, or ever will work, for a Conde Nast publication, the ramifications of these contracts and their actions will impact ALL of our community of artists. Creatives MUST try to exercise control of their rights at each commission as much as possible and practical. Try to negotiate the clauses that take too much. (see: The Guild's Handbook & Ethical Guide) Even when you sign a contract, make your concerns heard verbally and in writing. The more art buyers hear of individual artist's disapproval of these unfair terms, the better chance we all have to get them changed. YOUR future is at stake.