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Legal Protection

After being in my business as an Artist for over thirty years and yes if you if you are selling your work in the process of trying to make a living out of your Art, you are in a business weather you like it or not .

It is something that is always relatively uncomfortable for a lot of right brained creative people to get their heads around. I have had to force myself over the decades, mostly through people doing the wrong thing by me, to learn about the legal side of the Arts.

As much as we are always happy to sell our work and have the possibility of a company or private enterprise wanting to do something with your work, if the Devil of the legal shadow is not dealt with in these matters, than I can almost guarantee that in time no matter how many pats on the back and smile good mate gestures are given to you at the beginning of your dealings, at the end, everyone will have a different idea of how the deal was meant to go, and you will be the patsy that will end up with the raw end of the deal.

So in saying that let me take you through many of the things you will need to know to get your Art career and journey off to its best start, or at least give you some info that will help the already established career you have.

Any one in our business should always investigate all of the rules and regulations that you will need for you Art business. If you do this, chances are you WILL NOT be taken advantage of as you Art career expands.
Do all you can to protect yourself and where possible do not be afraid to spend a little money and seek council from those that can help you in the Legal. 

Organisations like- Australian Arts Lawyers – – and also Media Art lawyers – – are organisations that can assist you with any legal requirements.
I have also had many years of studying and signing contracts, but in saying that I am not a Lawyer and can only ever give my personal experiences in the legal dealings I have had over the years.

Copyright is a legal field that many Artists get confused with, but the bottom line is that it is your form of protection against people using your image to their advantage and not giving you the due credit, and also profit that is made from the use of your creation.

As the owner of the copyright you can allow others to do the following with your work:
– Reproduce the work in copies
– Distribute copies to the public by rental, lease or sale
– Display the copyrighted work Publicly( ie for the inclusion in a motion picture, video games, books , magazines
– Prepare derivatives of the work
– Allow the work to be licensed in many numerous forms of Brand naming and marketing independent products.

Copyright Act 1968
The British Copyright Act 1911 continued to apply in Australia until the AustralianCopyright Act 1968 came into force on 1 May 1969. The 1968 Act was enacted following the collapse of the imperial system after the passage of the BritishCopyright Act 1956, and following recommendations of the Spicer Committee, which had been appointed by the Australian Attorney-General in 1958 to review the 1912 Act to see what changes were necessary for Australia to ratify the Brussels Act of the Berne Convention.

The 1968 Act remains in force today, but has been amended on a number of occasions. The first major review occurred in 1974 when the Whitlam Governmentappointed the Copyright Law Committee, chaired by Justice Franki, to examine the impact of reprographic reproduction on copyright law in Australia. The committee was also asked to examine the impact of photocopying and “to recommend any alterations to the Australian copyright law to effect a proper balance of interest between owners of copyright and the users of copyright material in respect of reprographic reproduction.”

During its deliberation the Franki Committee observed that because Australia was a net importer of copyrighted works it should be careful to not adopt too radical solutions. The Franki Committee recommended, amongst others, the adoption of a statutory licensing scheme. When commencing its review the Committee stated that the primary purpose of copyright law was: 

“…to give to the author of a creative work his just reward for the benefit he has bestowed on the community and also to encourage the making of further creative works.”

On the other hand, as copyright in the nature of a monopoly, the law should ensure, as far as possible, that the rights conferred are not abused and that study, research and education are not unduly hampered.
Also remember that when you get a photographer to take photos of your work, the Photographer actually owns those images, not the originals of course, so cover yourself on that one and ask them to sign an agreement to relinquish their rights.
Makes it difficult to produce your work when someone else owns the image of the work.

This is a two way street and something that many investors in Art do not understand. Many art buyers that I have met over the years are often under the impression that due to the fact that they own the original, many of them think that they also own the copyright to the work as well.

This is not the case. The Artist retains copyright owner ship. The client can apply to purchase the copyright from the Artist at an agreed price, remembering, and this does happen with some large companies that want to mass produce the Artists work, that on occasions if the Artists has become well known.
The owner ship of the copyright can be far more valuable than the cost of the original, due to the fact of potential mass production of said image. A real tricky one to deal with and an Artist needs to know that once they have sold the copyright to an image it may end up anywhere the buyer wants.

If anyone has any need of more information I will be glad to email you more on the subject.

Kind regards

1 Comment

  1. Roslyn Oakes on October 9, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Is it ok for the agreement between the artist & photographer to be in the form of a letter or does it need to be drawn up by a lawyer. As far as copyright for reproduction eg in a book or movie is concerned is it necessary for a lawer to write up a contract for it to be legally binding?

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