George Worsley Adamson

Illustrator and humorist


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Copyright: the Battle



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Copyright: the Battle
Throughout his career as an illustrator and humorist, Adamson has been fighting for the rights of the artist. Some book and magazine publishers for many years took it for granted that they had ownership of any artwork they commissioned or published for the first time, and indeed of all subsequent reproduction rights for that work.

From the earliest days Adamson was nevertheless able to get his original artwork back in most instances. He can well recall, though, an occasion when an ink drawing by another artist was used as an envelope stiffener for the return of his own work, and of another occasion when a magazine reported that a painting he had done for the cover had been given to a former prime minister without more ado simply because the right honorable gentleman while visiting the magazine’s offices had taken a liking to it and asked to have it.

More and more often Adamson was able to negotiate for the right of first reproduction. That meant first serial rights for periodicals, or one-time use only for books with a refresher fee normally due on re-use, such as at the time of a book’s reprinting. He frequently exercised the minds of the legal experts at the Society of Authors in his endeavours to ensure fair dealing.

Foreign and syndicated rights remain a problem. There have been times when a foreign-language edition of a book with his illustrations has come to light about which he had not been told or when a cartoon has been spotted reproduced without permission in a newspaper thousands of miles away.

Current copyright legislation yields more protection for artists generally and it could certainly be said that Adamson in his own struggles for fair treatment helped improve attitudes among users of artwork in the run-up to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

For details about how to obtain permission to reproduce works of art by George Adamson  click here.

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