A few years back, we ran a regular series on our blog titled Questions of copyright, in which we addressed unauthorized use of our cartoons. We discontinued the series, not because our cartoons weren't stolen anymore, but because we just did not have the time to track and report on a regular basis.
We still do not have the time to do this, but we will post now and again when our cartoons are used with blatant disregard for copyright. Cartoons are more popular than ever, and widely shared. We do not mind this sharing when it is done by individuals. We do, however, mind it when our cartoons are used by other media organizations without permission or payment. This still happens far too often. After oppression and censorship, we think this is the biggest threat to the future of editorial cartooning.
The newspaper that caught our eye this month is La Presse in Tunisia. La Presse is a large-circulation French-language daily newspaper published in Tunis. Since a few months, we have noticed them using our cartoons to illustrate their articles. Although they give proper credit to the artist and even link back to Cartoon Movement (not many do), they have still taken cartoons without asking us. We have a quite noticeable 'Purchase' button beneath every cartoon, and journalists of all people should know that content isn't free.
This kind of free use is especially detrimental to a younger generation of cartoonists. They have no regular newspapers yet, and with this culture of free use it becomes almost impossible for them to generate an income out of their cartoons. The result: fewer and fewer professional cartoonists and lower quality cartoons as a result.
We will try to contact La Presse and will follow-up if there are any developments.
Update August 11: We received an apology from La Presse with the promise they will not use our work without prior consent in the future.