Sample Agreements
Artist and Gallery Agreement

This sample agreement outlines what is needed when an Artist wishes to enter into a long term relationship with a Gallery where the Gallery acts as an agent.

Auspice Agreement

This sample agreement should be used by a group of individuals who are not incorporated and want to apply for funding from a funding body that will only fund incorporated organisations (like co-operatives, incorporated associations, companies or companies limited by guarantee).

Band Partnership Deed

This sample agreement outlines the formalisation of a pre-existing band or performers wishing to join together to form a band.

Band Partnership Letter agreement

This sample Band Partnership Letter Agreement should be used when members of a band want to record how their band will operate as between the various members.

This sample agreement includes the most common terms which the parties need to consider and agree to.

Cast & Crew Agreement (with deferred fees)

This sample CAST & CREW AGREEMENT (WITH DEFERRED FEES) should be used when a producer (Producer) is engaging cast or crew members (Contractor), as independent contractors rather than employees, for the production of a very low (or no) budget film or video. It is for the situation where the producer has no means of paying cast and crew prior to a commercial release and where it is possible that there may not be a commercial release opportunity in the foreseeable future.

This sample agreement includes the most common terms which the Producer and the Contractor need to consider and agree.

This agreement can also be purchased as part of the Film/Video Sample Agreements Pack – Option B (No Budget) for a discounted price.

Consignment Agreement - Artwork

This sample agreement governs the relationship between an artist and a gallery when the artist allows the gallery to exhibit and sell works for a set period.

Contractor Agreement for Performers

This sample agreement should be used when a performer is being contracted by someone else to perform in a production. If the performer is being engaged as an employee rather than a contractor, Arts Law's Employment Agreement for Performers is more appropriate.

Copyright Licence for Collecting Institutions

This sample Copyright Licence for Collecting Institutions agreement should be used when a museum or other institution holding a collection of artefacts or artworks, including cinematographic or multimedia works or works of artistic craftsmanship or other copyright materials, wishes to make and publish a digital copy of a work for the purpose of facilitating public access to its collection.

Copyright Licensing Agreement

This sample Copyright Licensing Agreement should be used when a person who owns the copyright in creative content wishes to give permission to another person to use their content (whether a visual artwork, text, music, film or other content) in a particular way.

Creative Hub Participation Agreement and Cover Letter

The administering body of a Creative Hub in NSW can use this sample agreement to sub-licence space in a Creative Hub to an artistic pop-up project. It gives the individual or business a short term right to occupy space in the Creative Hub. 

Employment Agreement for Performers

This sample agreement can be used when a performer is being employed to perform in a production. It may also be adapted for other forms of employment. If the performer is being engaged as a contractor rather than an employee, Arts Law's Contractor Agreement for Performers is more appropriate.

Film Loan Agreement

This sample Film Loan Agreement letter should be used on a very low budget or no budget film when the film maker or film makers wants to borrow a small amount of money from a private individual (not a bank or government agency or funding body). It is intended to be interest free until a specified repayment date and is not due for repayment until the film earns revenue

Film Location Deed of Release (no payment)

The sample Film Location Deed of Release (no payment) is for use when a film producer wants to shoot a film (including a video) on private property. It is drafted mainly from the producer’s perspective. If a producer fails to obtain a Location Release, the producer could be liable in trespass or for doing other things for which there are legal consequences.

Film/Video Partnership Deed

This sample agreement outlines what needs to be considered, both creatively and financially, when a partnership is formed to collaborate on a specific film or video project, and the parties agree to share all expenses, profits and losses associated with the film.

This sample FILM/VIDEO PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT should be used when a group of people want to work together to make a film or video. It is appropriate for low or no budget film projects where the parties cannot afford, or chose not, to establish a company vehicle for the film project. It assumes that one of the partners originated the idea or proposal for the project (whether that person is a producer, director, screenwriter or holds an option over a novel or otherwise) and approaches others to work collaboratively with him or her to make the film. If the originator is a producer who wants to retain overall control and responsibility of the project, then it will be more appropriate for the producer to use contractor or employment agreements with the director, screenplay writer and other people working on the film such as Arts Law’s sample Producer and Director Agreement. If the originator doesn’t want to be involved in the filmmaking process but merely to pay a producer to make a film in accordance with a specific brief and wants ownership of the finished product then Arts Law’s sample Video Production Agreement may be more suitable.

Game Development Services Agreement

This sample Games Development: Services Agreement should be used when a game developer or game development company is developing an interactive media project (Game) and wants to engage the services of a third party contractor

Game Loan Agreement

This sample Game Loan Agreement should be used when a game developer or game developers want to borrow money from a private individual (not a bank, government agency or funding body) to finance the development of a game or app. The loan is unsecured and interest free until the stated ‘repayment date’. It attracts interest if not repaid on that date. The developer must repay the loan out of the revenue earned by the Game in priority to paying the development team.

Indigenous Artwork Reproduction License for fabric

This sample INDIGENOUS ARTWORK REPRODUCTION LICENCE (FABRIC) should be used when an artist who owns all rights and interests including copyright in an artwork (the Artwork) wants to grant a licensee an exclusive licence to reproduce the artwork in connection with the manufacture, importation, distribution, promotion, advertising and sale of printed fabric (the Fabric). The licence includes the right to adapt the Artwork into designs that can be printed as a repeating pattern onto Fabric under certain conditions (the Designs).

Indigenous Collaboration Agreement – Fashion and Furnishings

This sample INDIGENOUS COLLABORATION AGREEMENT should be used when a designer in the fashion, textile or home furnishing industry, or a business that is involved in the production of articles for the fashion and furnishing industries  (the Designer) wishes to work together with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island visual artist/ or group of visual artists (the Artist) to create and produce clothing, textiles and/or furnishing items based on or incorporating or inspired by the artworks of that artist or artists.

Interviewee’s Release (With Payment)

This sample Interviewee's Release (With payment) should be used when an interviewer or producer wishes to film or record interviews with another person whether for use in a research project, museum exhibition, film or radio project, or any other purpose.    

Lease of Artwork with Option to Purchase

This sample Lease of Artwork with Option to Purchase should be used when an artist agrees to lease any of his/her work to a person or an organisation for exhibition at that person’s or organisation's premises.

Loan of Artwork for Public Exhibition

This sample agreement between artist and public exhibition space should be used where an artist agrees to lend his/her work to the organiser of an exhibition.

Music Commission Agreement for Games

This sample Music Commission Agreement for Games should be used when a game developer wants a composer, musician or band either to create original music for use in the developer’s game or to adapt existing music into a new composition or arrangement.

Music Commission for Film

This sample agreement covers the fundamentals of how a producer commissions a screen composer to create an original score for a film or video.

Music Compilation Licence for a Community Project

This sample agreement outlines the arrangement between a community or a non-profit organisation and an unsigned artist in which the artist records songs for the first time for inclusion on a compilation album.

Music Licence for Film

This sample agreement is used when a producer wants to synchronise existing music and an existing master tape of the music to a soundtrack for a video or film. It is appropriate when the composer of the music owns the copyright in both the music and lyrics.

Music Licence for Games

This sample Music Licence for Games (often referred to as a synchronisation licence or master licence) is for use where a game developer wants to synchronise existing music and an existing master recording of the music to a soundtrack for a game. It is appropriate when the composer of the music owns the copyright in both the music (and lyrics) and the sound recording.

Music Studio Recording Agreement for Unsigned Artists

This sample agreement should be used when an unsigned artist is negotiating a booking with a recording studio. It can be used as a starting point for drafting an agreement or as a checklist to compare to the terms offered by the studio.

Occupancy Licence (Creative Hub)

This sample Occupancy Licence  is  modelled  on  the  successful  Renew  Newcastle  project in which an administrative body (such as a council or non-profit) connects artists, cultural projects and community groups with the owners of vacant buildings. It sets out the terms on which the Administering Body of the Creative Hub permits the artist or community project to occupy premises within the Creative Hub. It should be used in conjunction with the Participation Letter which is also available for FREE individual download below.

Occupancy Licence (Pop Up)

This sample Occupancy Licence (Pop-Up) sets out the terms on which a building owner directly agrees to allow an artist, cultural project or community group to occupy its empty premises for a short period.  Such arrangements nurture creative, artistic and cultural projects and bring life and energy to a local area. While the successful  Renew  Newcastle  project involved an administrative body (such as a council or non-profit) connecting artists, with the owners of vacant buildings, this agreement operates where there is no such overarching supervisory body.


One-off Performance Partnership Deed

This sample deed should be used when a group of performers (dancers) want to form a partnership for the purpose of putting on a one-off show/project/performance.

Option and Purchase Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a filmmaker's wishes to secure the exclusive rights to develop a book, play or other existing into a film.

Performer’s Ongoing Partnership Deed

This sample deed should be used when a group of performers want to form a partnership for the purpose of putting on more than one show/project/performance on an ongoing basis.

Performer’s Release

This sample agreement should be used to ensure that the recipient of the release, for example a producer, is allowed to record and use the performance. It also covers the performer's copyright and moral rights.

Photographer’s Release

This release protects photographers against any claim from individuals when they use photographs including those individuals.

Public Art: Design and Commission Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a visual artist is commissioned to design and create a public artwork. If the artwork is not a public work Arts Law's Design and Commission Agreement is more appropriate.

This sample Public Art: Design and Commission Agreement should be used when a visual artist is being commissioned to design and create a public artwork.

See also Jilalga Murray-Ranui case study

See also Arts Law’s case study on the best practice use of this sample agreement by the Town of Victoria Park

Sale of Artwork Agreement

This sample agreement governs the relationship between an artist and the purchaser of an artwork.

Sample Website Terms of Use

These sample Website Terms of Use are for use on websites either with a blog (i.e. a public "discussion board" that allows users to post their comments for others to read and comment on) or a more traditional website without a blog.

Session Musician’s Release

This sample Session Musician’s Release (the Release) should be used when a musician is being hired by a third party to perform a musical work as part of a recorded music session.

Sponsorship Agreement

This sample agreement should be used by artists or arts organisations when obtaining sponsorship for a particular event or activity, such as a festival, performance or exhibition.

Venue Hire Agreement

This sample agreement can be used for hiring a place/space for short period of time.

Video Production Agreement

This sample agreement should be used when a producer or production company is commissioned to produce a video program for purposes such as promotion, education or instruction.

Workshop Participation Deed

This sample WORKSHOP PARTICIPATION DEED should be used when a person takes part in a workshop in which they will create copyright material, for example by writing text, composing music, creating new dance movement or coming up with new lines for a play, and possibly performs the material created.

Writer and Commissioner

This sample agreement should be used when a writer is commissioned to write a short work, for example an essay in the catalogue of an exhibition.

Info Sheets
Agency agreements

Actors, musicians and bands often appoint agents or managers to act on their behalf. Visual artists often have a dealer who represents them. The manager or agent can enter into contracts that are binding on the person who appointed them (the principal). There are specific legal rules which apply to these agency relationships.

This information sheet explains what an agency is, how it is created, the authority granted to an agent, an agent's obligations, and the important terms of agency agreements. It also deals with any state legislation that applies to agents, managers and venue consultants in the entertainment industry. Bands and visual artists should also read the “Music management checklist” and “Artist-gallery checklist”.

Competition conditions

This information sheet considers some issues you should consider before entering creative competitions.

Computer Games - legal issues for creative designers

This information sheet addresses legal issues that can arise when creating computer games, including the copyright in the various elements that make up a computer game such as the artistic works and the computer programs that operate the game. The discussion of copyright covers the use of ‘authoring’ programs and the need for games developers to have appropriate contracts with employees, independent contractors or unpaid volunteers.

This information sheet also discusses copyright in ‘user generated content’ and how ownership of ‘user generated content’, ‘End User Licence Agreements’ (EULAs) and the ‘terms of use’ of a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORG).

Arts Law has a suite of agreements suitable for games design and development here.

Contracts: A glossary of jargon

When negotiating, discussing, entering or arguing about an agreement, a vocabulary of unfamiliar word and expressions may be introduced into the conversation.

This information sheet contains a list of some of the more common legal terms that you might come across in negotiations as well as words and expressions that may appear in an agreement. This information sheet should be read in conjunction with Arts Law’s information sheet Contracts: An introduction

Contracts: Getting it write/right

This information sheet also explains the requirements for a legally binding contract. They include a clear offer; the acceptance of that offer; the exchange something of value (known as ‘consideration’); and the intention to enter into a contractual relationship. There also needs to be certainty as to the important matters that each party is promising to do or to refrain from doing for a contract to be enforced by a court of law.

It provides some basic contract tips to help you to negotiate and end up with an agreement that is a binding legal commitment. Arts Law recommends artists read this information sheet before using any of our sample agreements. This information sheet should also be read in conjunction with Arts Law’s information sheet “Contracts: A glossary of jargon”. 

Copyright and moral right infringement by media letter of demand (Visual arts & Photo)

This information sheet explains to visual artists and photographers how to prepare a letter of demand to send to a person or organisation in the media (e.g. a newspaper) who you believe is infringing your copyright and/or moral rights, whether in print or online. The first step is to understand your copyright and moral rights and make a careful assessment as to whether they are being infringed.

Creative Enterprise Hubs in NSW: Overview

Creative Enterprise Hubs transform empty spaces into arts precincts by facilitating short term access for creative, artistic and cultural projects to unused or abandoned spaces.  Hubs operate in temporarily vacant and low cost or free premises, providing artists and arts groups with creative space and bringing life and energy back to the area with resulting benefits to local business and residents. Arts Law’s suite of documents is part of Arts NSW’s Creative Hub Toolkit designed as a blueprint for councils, local communities and local businesses interested in urban renewal. This information sheet provides an overview of the legal agreements used to set up a Creative Hub and issues participants should consider.

Creative Enterprise Hubs: Sample Documents Checklist

Urban renewal by setting up a Creative Enterprise Hub enabling arts projects to occupy abandoned or vacant premises for a short term involves a series of formal legal agreements between the body administering the Hub, the building owners and those with suitable creative projects. In NSW, the requirements of the Retail Leases Act 1994 must be addressed. This information sheet provides information about when and how to use the sample agreements in Arts Law’s Creative Enterprise Hubs NSW toolkit. It explains the contractual documents necessary to formalise the relationship between promoters of creative enterprise hubs and property owners or participants in the Hub. It should be read in conjunction with Arts Law’s information sheet Creative Enterprise Hubs in NSW: Overview.

Debt recovery – small claims procedure (NT)

An introduction into how one can go about chasing payment that is owning to them in the Northern Territory. It provides clarification on the small claims procedure in the Northern Territory.

Debt recovery – small claims procedure (SA)

This information sheet provides an introduction into about how one can chase outstanding payment in South Australia. It provides clarification on the small claims procedure in South Australia.

Direct Licensing Guidelines

This information sheet is for small Australian record companies and independent artists that have an input agreement with the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). All record companies and independent artists that are PPCA licensors must have direct licensing guidelines that outline the circumstances in which they may directly licence public performance and transmission rights for their sound recordings. This information sheet includes sample Direct Licensing Guidelines. All PPCA licensors are entitled to free legal advice from Arts Law about their guidelines and input agreements. For advice, lodge a query here.

Disclaimers, exclusion clauses and risk warnings

This information explains the difference between a disclaimer and an exclusion clause in a contract and the circumstances when a risk warning should be used. It explains when you should use them, what they mean and the effectiveness of such clauses or statements in limit liability for injury, loss or damage. This information sheet should be read in conjunction with our insurance and liability information sheet.

Film competitions

Entering a film competition creates a binding contract between the film maker and the competition organiser. It is important to understand the competition’s terms and conditions. These might include requiring the entrant to give the competition organisers a copyright licence or assignment and a warranty that all underlying copyright has been cleared. This information sheet talks about typical terms and conditions in competitions and what to look out for. Arts Law routinely reviews the terms and conditions of current competitions and film makers should check to see whether their competition has been reviewed here

Film Financing

This information sheet looks at domestic and international sources of funding for film, television and games developers including both funding by way of grants (e.g. Screen Australia) or investment. Free-to-air broadcasters and pay television channels may provide partial funding for film and television programming. Film distributors may assist in the financing of feature films and distributors and publishers of computer games are possible sources of financing for computer games. A number of funding options exist, including the “Producer Offset”/ “Producer Rebate” scheme, and private avenues such as crowd funding. Each of these funding options is explored in more detail in this information sheet. Arts Law has a sample Film Loan Agreement and a Games Loan Agreement which may be relevant.

Film Location Releases

If you are filming on private property or in a public space (such as a park or council land), you may need a film location release. This information sheet when and why a film location release is important. Information is also provided on which parties should be contacted to obtain film location releases. Arts Law has two sample film location deeds of release (with payment and without payment).

Music Copyright and Publishing for Bands and Recording Artists

Composers, lyricists, independent recording artists and bands that own the copyright in their music can derive income through the licensing and performance of their compositions and sound recordings. This information sheet explains music copyright and royalties, the role of collecting societies such as APRA/AMCOS and PPCA, and music publishing. Sample agreements that may be relevant include Music Recording agreements guide, Music Studio Recording Agreement for Unsigned Artists and Session Musician’s release

Protecting your ideas

How to protect ideas and an outline of confidentiality law. This information sheet includes a sample confidentiality agreement.

Website development

This information sheet covers the most important issues that a person should consider and possibly address in a contract when engaging a website developer to create a website.

Writers and authors: useful resources

This information sheet lists resources, including sample agreements, which authors, writers and illustrators may find useful. It includes a brief description of the different resources available on the websites of the Arts Law Centre of Australia, the Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Writers’ Guild and the Australian Copyright Council.

(RE)Introducing Creative Commons

So you're a creator of music/graphic designs/films and you want to get your body of work 'out there'. You've heard about this licensing system called the Creative Commons that doesn't involve you seeing — or, more importantly, paying — a lawyer. What do you need to know before committing to using a Creative Commons licence?

360 Degree Record Deals

In the face of declining record sales, record companies are presenting some artists with 360 degree deals, enabling the record company to share in revenue traditionally only collected by artists. This article looks at the arguments for and against these deals and what artists should consider before signing them.

A Cancelled Commission Case Study

Rod Nash was shocked when a Sydney council told him to stop work on the sculpture they had commissioned him to make for a public library. He was suddenly lumbered with the rather large, unfinished, site-specific sculpture for which he had not yet been paid.

A fraction too much friction

In light of a recent, well publicised literary scandal Katherine Giles discusses important considerations for authors when entering into publishing agreements.

Arts Law’s Black Fashion Project

Arts Law has developed a suite of legal documents associated with ethical collaborative agreements between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and designers who wish to work and create together. Together, these agreements form part of Arts Law’s Black Fashion project and have been supported by funding from Arts Queensland.

Author Beware!

Earlier this year Arts Law was contacted by a number of authors who wanted advice about their rights to royalties for sales of their books. Problems arose when the authors received letters from a new Australian publishing company, explaining that the first publishing house's business had been sold to the new company but without any obligation for the new company to continue paying royalties to the authors for sales of their books.

Better Ask a Lawyer: q&a with Michael Easton

Michael’s a lawyer with over 17 years experience in media, entertainment, commercial and intellectual property law. He previously worked for the ABC and now runs his own specialist practice. 

Caveat: Visual Artists and Agents: When is a commission payable?

The question of when a gallery is entitled to claim commission on artist sales is a frequent cause of confusion and contention. It is an issue that can, and should be, clarified at the outset of the artist-gallery relationship so that both the artist and the gallery are clear about when the gallery is entitled to a share of income from sales.

Caveat: Visual Artists and Warranties and Indemnities

A number of visual artists have recently approached Arts Law with concerns about art commission agreements they were asked to sign. Their agreements contained a term asking them to warrant that their work did not infringe anyone's rights and to indemnify the commissioner against any claims arising out of their work.

Changes for PPCA licensors

Serena Armstrong explains some changes to PPCA agreements and sets out the new Arts Law resources available to help people understand and comply with the changes.

Common conundrums

Arts Law deals with a diverse range of legal concerns across all art sectors.  Below are some frequently asked questions over the last year, answered by some of our volunteer lawyers who provided an incredible amount of support and help to Arts Law during 2005. 

Deferred Payments

Deferred payments allow low-budget filmmakers to produce films when they don't have the resources to pay the cast and crew upfront. The producer and the cast and crew agree that the cast and crew will be paid only if, and when, the film is commercially exploited and a revenue stream is created.

Digital rights – American labels step up actions against online music companies

In the last year, a number of American-based online music businesses have taken advantage of new software, offering consumers faster access to streamed and downloaded music online. Two actions for copyright infringement have been brought against, the most significant by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) in relation to their new account service which offers members two new means of music delivery.

Do the rights thing

Before you embark on producing your short or low budget feature, you should be aware that there are a few legal hoops you need to jump through in order to create and exhibit it. This article looks at the issue of obtaining rights and releases.

Funding a Film through Product Placement

Characters in films eat, drink and wear clothes (sometimes). If they are eating, drinking and wearing branded or recognisable products you may be able to negotiate a product placement deal with the brand to subsidise the cost of producing your film

Getting Mobile with Distribution

Simone Brandon outlines new laws that affect mobile phone content and the opportunities for artists to distribute their work via mobile phones.

Indigenous Artist and Arts Centre Agreement

Arts Law’s new free sample Indigenous Artist and Art Centre Agreement is a great resource for Indigenous artists creating artworks at Indigenous art centres. In this article, Serena Armstrong looks at who might use the agreement and how to use it.

Keeping The Fun In Funding

Local, State and Federal Government in Australia provide grants to artists, organisations and spaces such as galleries to acknowledge artistic expression as an important freedom of individuals and to support and develop artists and creative industries. This article will discuss how a Funded Organisation can take some simple steps to maximise the exposure of their work whilst minimising the risk of losing funding or having their work censored.

Legal resources for writers and online publishing tips

Whether you are trying to get your novel published or adding content to your own website, there are a number of guides which will help you understand the law as it relates to publishing, contracts, defamation and intellectual property.

Liability for Damage to Consigned Artworks

Arts Law is often contacted by artists whose works have been lost or damaged while being exhibited by a gallery, and who have been told by the gallery that it is not responsible. What rights does the artist have against the gallery in this situation?

Love (not) thy neighbour

The recent NSW Supreme Court case of Biscayne Partners Pty Ltd v Valance Corp Pty Ltd & Ors attracted much media attention, due in no small part to the identity of its main protagonists, former "Neighbours" stars Scott Michaelson and Holly Valance.

Low Budget Films – contracts with cast and crew

Making films with a very low budget or no budget at all is a challenge which faces lots of Arts Law's clients. Films are made with borrowed cameras, friends step in as actors and technicians, the script is a one page plot line that evolves as filming progresses, and often the only perk is a round of drinks at the local pub when it's finally in the can. No one expects to make any money but everyone dreams that maybe this film might go somewhere. Sound familiar?

Make the most of your gig

Arts Law's Live music performance: Booking gigs guide assists musicians with making the most of their live performances. Isobel Ferrier examines some of the issues musicians should consider when doing gigs.

Money Matters: Selling and Licensing Part One

Alison Patchett provides an overview of two of the most common agreements that visual artists should use in managing their arts business.  This part addresses preliminary issues and a sale of artwork agreement.  Part two (to appear in the September edition of Art + Law) will consider they key common issues in an image reproduction licence

Money Matters: Selling and Licensing Part Two

Alison Patchett provides an overview of two of the most common agreements that visual artists should use in managing their arts business in a two part article. Part One addressed some preliminary contractual issues and outlined the core terms in a sale of artwork agreement. This part considers the content of animage reproduction licence.

Music sampling

Sampling is now an established musical practice, although it still generates strong legal debate. The purpose of this article is to provide practical advice for musicians considering incorporating samples into their work.

Nothing Like Australia Competition: just unAustralian

Recently Tourism Australia ran a competition called 'Nothing like Australia' which attracted 29,031 photo entries. While the competition itself may have seemed innocuous it was the face of a set of very onerous terms and conditions.

Pitching Your Idea

If you have come up with an amazing idea for a film, television production, book or play and are keen to pitch it to potential publishers, producers or funders, take a moment to think about the best way to do it. It is important to protect your rights, while also maximising your chances of success.

PPCA takes Radio Cap to the High Court

On Tuesday 10 May, the High Court of Australia heard an appeal from the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Ltd (PPCA) against the current 1% cap on royalties payable by radio for the use of sound recordings. The PPCA hopes to remove the statutory cap that has had Australian artists subsidising the provision of content to the highly profitable commercial radio sector for over forty years.

Public Art Guidelines for Artists and Commissioners

Arts Law is frequently contacted by artists with concerns about public art commissions they are involved in. The following guidelines may help creators and commissioners of public artworks avoid conflict and misunderstanding both during the commissioning process and for the life of the work.

Public Artworks

This article briefly discusses particular areas that often generate problems for artists as well as suggesting other sources of useful information.

Putting Your Indie Short Film on the Internet

Putting your film online can give you worldwide exposure. If all goes well you might get picked up for a distribution or development deal. But what should you look out for when you submit?

Q&As for filmmakers

The Arts Law Centre of Australia (Arts Law) regularly advises filmmakers on a wide range of legal issues affecting their arts practice, such as copyright, trade marks, or telling real stories. This is the first instalment of questions and answers that Arts Law lawyers deal with most often, either as part of the telephone legal advice or document review service they provide, or in the context of education seminars they deliver.

Sculptures in public - protecting your work

Australian law has traditionally been fairly unhelpful when it comes to protecting sculptures. Until recently artists have had very little power to prevent their work from being subjected to ill treatment once sold. Sculptors who display their works permanently in public have also been powerless to stop others from commercialising their work.  Fortunately, there have been some positive steps of late to address these long-standing problems.

The Death of Shock and its Impact on Australian Artists

In June 2010 Shock Music Publishing ('Shock'), the publishing arm of Australia's largest independent entertainment company, announced that it had gone into liquidation and appointed administrators to be responsible for the affairs of the company.

The Devil in the detail

Competitions provide a necessary forum for artists, especially those embarking on their artistic careers, to advertise and promote their particular talent to a wider audience and to seek and possibly secure future commissioning for their work. For all manner of artists, creating works for and entering competitions at one stage or another in their career is so prevalent as to be considered a rite of passage! Regardless of whether you are entering your first competition or your hundredth, the devil is likely to be found in the competition detail.


Arts Law is sometimes contacted for advice about the copyright issues involved in making and commissioning foreign language translations of literary works.

When you lay your money down: buying artworks on lay-by or deposit

Two common means of selling artworks are through deposit and lay-by arrangements.  Though this may be advantageous in terms of sales, problems often arise when the purchaser does not finish or is slow paying and there is no clear agreement dealing with what happens in this situation.

You talkin’ ‘bout me? Basing stories on people’s lives

Arts Law regularly receives queries relating to people wanting either to write about a member of their family or community, or depict a person they know or don’t know in a film. The issue that arises is, how does the law regulate one person publishing a story about another person?

Case Studies
Negotiating a licensing agreement

What happens when you negotiate a deal with a company and then the person you spoke to leaves and their successor tries to back out or change the terms? Can you still hold the company to the agreement?

Andrée Greenwell: negotiating production contracts

Andrée Greenwell is a highly-regarded composer, performance maker and music educator and is artistic director of Green Room Music. Andrée approached Arts Law with a query about a production for which she was music producer, composer and artistic director.

Artists of Ampilatwatja: Dealing with an overseas gallery

In 2012 Artists of Ampilatwatja Corporation contacted Artists in the Black about a dispute with an overseas gallery relating to a contract for the consignment and sale of artworks. Artists in the Black was able to persuade international law firm DLA Piper to provide the services of a lawyer based in the United Kingdom on a pro bono basis. Solicitor Luke Holmes negotiated a successful resolution of the dispute.

Bede Tungutalum and “Owl Man”

Senior Tiwi artist Bede Tungutalum is a painter, carver and printmaker and one of the founders of Tiwi Designs the well known Indigenous screen printing business based on Bathurst Island. In 2004, he approached Artists in the Black after seeing prints of his limited edition linocut work "Owl Man" for sale on the internet and through galleries in Australia.

Book publishing contracts – understanding what you are signing

We referred Michael to one of our external pro bono lawyers with book publishing expertise. The free advice session provided to Michael as part of his Arts Law subscription was so helpful that Michael decided to engage that lawyer on a private basis to negotiate with the publisher on several changes to the contract.

Christine Tschuna - What to do if you don’t get paid – letters of demand

Christine Tschuna is an Wirangu artist with the Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre. In June 2006 she signed a Licence Reproduction Agreement with a company with produces postcards and tourist memorabilia. After the company stopped returning her calls or emails Christine turned to Artists in the Black for assistance. Arts Law pro bono lawyer Robert Lempens of Camatta Lempens in Adelaide offered to help Christine.

Donny Woolagoodja

Worora man Donny Woolagoodja is a renowned artist whose giant Wandjina artwork featured at the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He asked Artists in the Black to help him prepare a document which would protect him from being held responsible if participants on his tours were injured and which would also enable him to restrict participants from photographing and publishing images of culturally sensitive sites.

Ilbijerri Theatre Company – copyright ownership and contract

Ilbijerri Theatre Company in Victoria is the longest running Indigenous theatre company in Australia creating innovative contemporary works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Ilbijerri asked Artists in the Black to help clarify these issues in a way which recognized and protected the contributions of the workshop participants but also made sure that Ilbijerri had all of the rights it needed to stage a successful production for the public.

Jack Barrington’s wartime exploits published under licence. When is a release not a release?

Second World War veteran Jack Barrington approached Arts Law in August 2010. Jack was an air gunner flying Lancaster bombers from England with 460 Squadron RAAF. The Sydney Region Aircrew Group wanted to publish a book called ‘The Spirit of Aircrew’ that would feature stories of aircrew who participated in the War. They are a voluntary organization determined to ensure that the contributions made by their members are not forgotten.

Jilalga Murray-Ranui: Protecting your rights in a public work commission project

Jilalga Murray-Ranui is an Indigenous visual artist who is passionate about producing digital images, paintings, and smaller works of art inspired by the Pilbara landscape, people, animals and lifestyle

In July 2010, Jilalga was approached by Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) to create a large mural on a bridge.  The MAC and the Victorian Department of Transport had entered into an agreement in relation to the creation of a public art work and Jilalga had been retained by MAC to do this work. She was not a party to the agreement between MAC and the Victorian Department of Transport so she was concerned about how that agreement might affect her copyright and her moral rights. 

As an Indigenous artist, Jilalga receives a free subscription to Arts Law which she used to access Arts Law’s Document Review Service. Arts Law arranged for lawyers Jarod Benson and Jessica Karasinski of Minter Ellison to help Jilalga to understand the agreement.

 Jilalga says:

“For me the size of the contract and the wording was very daunting. Arts Law helped me understand it. And they helped me renegotiate parts where I felt uneasy or concerned. Another concern I had was distance between all parties. I lived in Perth, the Victorian Transport department was in Melbourne, Mungabareena was in Wodonga, and then Arts Law was in Sydney. I was worried for a little while about the distance - I felt like I was just one lone artist on the other side of Australia.  But it was reassuring that Arts Law made contact with some Perth lawyers to assist me. I felt good that I had local people on board to help me and that gave me a bit more confidence.”

Jilalga asked the Department of Transport and MAC to consider the amendments suggested by Jarod and Jessica. Those amendments were accepted and the contract was changed in a way that gave much greater protection to Jilalga.

The mural project was unveiled in February 2011. Jilalga reflects on the process:

“Arts Law gives you the confidence to have your say by talking with you, then talking to the other party and negotiating on your behalf if and when you need it. By working with Arts Law, I felt reassured that my rights were worthy, and that my rights deserved to be heard and respected.

I enjoyed the process, all people involved worked positively together. I was so happy about the work I produced for the community, especially the Koorie community. The project was a success for the community, for the organisations involved, and for myself as a practising artist.”

This story demonstrates that it is important for artists to be aware of their rights and to be vigilant with agreements dealing with copyright of an artist, especially when the artist is not a party to the agreement. Artists should consider their moral rights (such as making sure they are named as the artist of the work) and should not be afraid to negotiate to protect their rights.


Further resources you might find useful:

-  Arts Law’s information sheets: Contracts: an introduction

-  Arts Law’s sample agreements: Public art: design and commission agreement

Joseph McNeill: Licensing Music

Joseph McNeill, also known as “Saucypeanuts”, is a Byron Bay based performer and composer. Joseph decided to upload his song ‘Convoluted Aether’ to Triple J Unearthed and subsequently received interest from a party wanting to licence the song. Joseph contacted Arts Law in May 2014 seeking advice about copyright licensing. Arts Law explained that if Joseph wanted advice on the particular terms of a copyright licence he wanted to enter into then he would need to use Arts Law’s Document Review Service. Otherwise Arts Law could give him high level advice about the general issues that arise when licensing music. Joseph decided to receive high level advice from Arts Law first.

Lawrence Omeenyo licenses his image for Arts Law’s Christmas card

Artist Lawrence Omeenyo is a painter, sculptor and elder of the Lockhart River Community. He works through the Lockhart River Arts Centre. After Arts Law had worked with the Lockhart River Art Centre drafting wills for their artists, Arts Law decided to approach the art centre to see if it was possible to license one of the artist's images for Arts Law's 2010 Christmas card.

Mirvac: Licensing for Sydney CBD installation

In 2013, Artists in the Black was contacted by an Indigenous writer seeking assistance with a contract he had received from Mirvac for the use of his published works in Mirvac’s new development at 8 Chifley Square in Sydney.

Ninuku Arts - Selling works on consignment: chasing payment and negotiating a settlement

Ninuku Arts entered into a consignment agreement with an Adelaide gallery for the sale of 29 artworks by 19 of its artists. Ninuku Arts made many requests for payment for the 6 outstanding paintings, but no response was received. Artists in the Black turned to its long time supporters DLA Phillips Fox in Adelaide (now Fox Tucker Lawyers) for pro bono assistance.

P.D. Casely-Hayford: Getting your public commission contract right

P.D. Casely-Hayford is an experimental filmmaker, visual sound and performance artist. One of her most recent experimental films Confidential Despatch was officially selected for the 2014 International Black Women's Film Festival in San Francisco, U.S.A. She is currently completing a PhD that focuses on experimental film, moving image, visual culture and legacy at Queensland University of Technology's Creative Industries Faculty. 

Rod Nash - A cancelled commission case study

Rod Nash was shocked when a Sydney council told him to stop work on his sculpture “Seed” which they had commissioned him to make for a public library. Rod contacted Arts Law to find out his rights.

The Brow Horn Orchestra: On the road to success

The Brow Horn Orchestra ( is a six piece afro-electro funk band based in Perth, Western Australia. The band has garnered a cult following since winning Best Funk Act at the 2010 Western Australian Music Industry Awards and Best Live Act  at the Perth Dance Music Awards. In light of the band’s growing profile, founding members Nic Owen and Karri Harper-Meredith (who started out ‘The Brow’ as a street performing duo back in 2007) sat down with Arts Law Senior Solicitor Delwyn Everard at the 2011 WAMi Festival to get some general legal advice around band management.

The Dion Beasley Trust

Dion Beasley is a talented young Aboriginal artist working in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. Dion is profoundly deaf and suffers from muscular dystrophy. He has only a very limited ability to communicate. When Dion was 14, Barkly Regional Arts contacted Arts Law requesting help to establish a business structure to protect the income received for Dion.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers and works on consignment

The Tjanpi Desert Weavers are Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara women from eighteen desert communities who make baskets, sculptures, beads and beanies. In 2007, Tjanpi contacted Artists in the Black with a query about certificates of authenticity and the use by a gallery of images and biographical details about their weavers.

Urban Smart Projects: Best Practice in Public Artwork Projects

Urban Smart Projects (USP) is a street art initiative that engages local artists and residents to turn cities into brighter places by painting original artwork onto traffic signal boxes around Australia. USP approaches local councils to commission the project in their local area. Once commissioned, USP places a call out to the local community and artists who are interested in contributing submit an original design to USP for approval.  The artists are asked to sign a contract with USP which explains the obligations of both of the parties, including the copyright licensing arrangements. Once the contract is signed, USP provides the artist with the equipment to create their original artwork on a particular signal box in their local area. 

News & Events
AITB on the Road: Alice Springs Trip

In April 2015, Arts Law’s Deputy Director, Delwyn Everard, and I travelled to Central Australia to engage with local independent Indigenous artists in the Alice Springs area. 

Answers for Artists Seminar - Alice Springs

Arts Law will be hosting a general artists’ rights seminar in Alice Springs.

This seminar will deal with issues such as copyright, moral rights,
licensing and contracts, putting work online, the new PPSA legislation,
prizes and competitions!

DATE: Friday 17 May 2013

TIME: 9.30am-12pm

WHERE: 27 Hartley Street, Alice Springs, NT.

Answers for Artists Seminar - Darwin

Arts Law will be hosting a general artists’ rights seminar in Darwin.

This seminar will deal with issues such as copyright, moral rights,
licensing and contracts, putting work online, the new PPSA legislation,
prizes and competitions!

DATE: Monday 20 May 2013

TIME: 9am-11.30am

WHERE: Arts NT conference room, AXA Building, Level One, 9-11 Cavenagh Street, Darwin NT.

Artists in the Black visits the Mid North Coast

Arts Law, in collaboration with Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance is offering FREE legal advice workshops to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists on the mid north coast this June.

Arts Law - Answers for Artists in Brisbane

Wednesday 24 October Forum – Arts Law Centre Australia

Join us at JWCoCA Fortitude Valley to hear about the latest information on copyright laws and other arts law issues.

  • Copyright –issues in digital environment
  • Resale royalties –how does it work?
  • Personal Property Securities Act – what do you need to do?
  • Prizes and competitions – the good and the bad
Arts Law launches new band partnership agreement

Together with Allens Linklaters, Arts Law has developed a new short form band agreement. This template is an alternative to the longer more detailed band partnership agreement and can be used when bands want a basic straightforward record of how they want to work together, who owns the music they make and how they will share expenses and income.

Film and Law Seminar - WA

Arts Law will be presenting a Film and the Law seminar at the Film and Television Institute of Western Australia. Wednesday 17 August 2011 - FREE.

Law of the Written Word

Join Arts Law Centre of Australia Executive Director, Robyn Ayres, and guest practitioners Barrister James Samargis and Dr Mark Williams as they discuss a broad range of topical Arts Law issues affecting writers.

New legal resources for game developers

Arts Law have recently developed a suite of legal resources specifically for game developers. All the legal issues are covered from conception through to development, production and distribution.  There are also sample agreements available including a loan agreement and music licence. 

Public Art Commissions

FREE webinar. Have you been commissioned by a council, government authority or property developer to create a public artwork? Or do you work for a public authority or developer wanting to commission an artwork? Did your eyes glaze over at the 20 page contract? Do you understand the insurance issues? Was the artwork successfully completed and installed? This session covers some of the basic legal issues which arise in public artwork commissions including common terms and conditions, and likely problems.

Public Art Commissions (webinar repeat)

FREE webinar. Have you been commissioned by a council, government authority or property developer to create a public artwork? Or do you work for a public authority or developer wanting to commission an artwork? Did your eyes glaze over at the 20 page contract? Do you understand the insurance issues? Was the artwork successfully completed and installed? This session covers some of the basic legal issues which arise in public artwork commissions including common terms and conditions, and likely problems.


The Arts Law Centre, in partnership with the Media Resource Centre, is pleased to present a seminar on the legal issues affecting screen creators - 9 June Adelaide

System Upgrade

Dear Arts Law Supporters,

We are currently doing a system upgrade. As a result, over the next couple of weeks our ability to answer your query as quickly as usual will be affected. We endeavour to get back to our usual response time as soon as we can. Your patience during this period will be greatly appreciated.

Torres Strait Workshops for Artists

Two days of workshops and talks where artists can discuss and learn more about the legal issues surrounding their artforms with Arts Law's Delwyn Everard and Donna Carstens

Dates: 23rd of July 9am - 3pm & 24th of July 10.30am - 12pm

Venue: Torres Strait Regional Authority, Torres Haus, 46 Victoria Parade

Working with Indigenous Artists - Alice Springs

On Friday 5 October 2012, a workshop to help understand and implement best practice will be conducted

Do you work with Indigenous artists and creators or use their work in your resources, products, promotional material etc?

Arts Law will be conducting a workshop for people in Government, the educational sector, libraries, museums, galleries and other institutions whg with Indigenous creatives.

Working with Indigenous Artists - Victoria workshops

On Tuesday 2 October 2012, a workshop to help understand and implement best practice will be conducted

Do you work with Indigenous artists and creators or use their work in your resources, products, promotional material etc?

Arts Law will be conducting a workshop for people in Government, the educational sector, libraries, museums, galleries and other institutions whg with Indigenous creatives.

Artist-gallery checklist

This checklist covers many of the issues which need to be considered and decided on by artists and galleries when negotiating their exhibition arrangements.

Music management checklist

This checklist outlines issues which musicians and bands need to consider before entering into a management agreement. It is recommended for use in negotiations, before artist and manager sign a written agreement.

Music publishing checklist

This checklist outlines the basic concepts of music publishing agreements. Music publishing is one of the most complex areas of the music industry. Music publishers are an integral part of the contemporary music industry as they act as an interface between songwriters or composers and the rest of the music industry.

Organising a festival checklist

This checklist provides an overview of some of the most important issues you will need to consider when organising a festival. It can be used as the basis for putting together a business plan or your own checklist to be used when putting together the festival.

Short film competitions: Producer’s guide

This checklist outlines the main legal issues a short filmmaker or produce should consider when making their short film. It is recommended for use short filmmakers who are entering their films into a short film competition.

Music recording agreements guide

This guide outlines the basic concepts of a recording agreement. It explains the different types of recording contracts and briefly states the formalities of forming and negotiating a deal with a record company. The checklist also has a glossary of common terms which will help you understand what is being offered in a recording deal.

Short film competitions: Producer’s guide

This checklist outlines the main legal issues a short filmmaker or produce should consider when making their short film. It is recommended for use short filmmakers who are entering their films into a short film competition.

Sponsorship agreements guide

Corporate sponsorship is assuming an increasingly important role in the arts. This guide outlines the different forms of sponsorship that an artist or arts organisation may need to seek from a commercial organisation and what should be included in a sponsorship agreement.

Seminar Papers
Collaborations (1999)

Use of Indigenous Cultural Material in Contemporary Performance. Edited transcript of the seminar held at Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney, 14 May 1999

Issues in Public Art (1998)

Given the social and cultural benefits which public art can confer on a community, this seminar explores what needs to be done on a practical level so that public art projects don't stall.

Music: Get on Track (2001)

Experts in the music industry discuss recording agreements, the difference between independent and major labels, types of recording deals, contracts, royalties, artistic control and the practical process of getting a recording deal.

Music: Push the Button (2001)

Arts Law's 2001 music seminar Push The Button investigates the legal pitfalls in taking the song out of your head to the marketing and demo stage if you're an unsigned artist. The seminar covers everything from band partnerships, disputes as to who's written the song, using samples and cover work.

Photography and the Law (1996)

This paper provides a brief overview of legal issues that arise in relation to photography, with particular emphasis on copyright. It covers the legal issues that arise from the time a client asks for photographs to be taken, through the time when the photographer actually sets up a tripod or takes off the lens, to the time the resulting image is sold on or licensed.

Earning a Living in the Visual Arts and Crafts (3rd edition)

This must read for everyone involved in the visual arts and crafts includes new chapters on sponsorship, working from home, hobbyist vs professional and the role of design in serial production, while information on income tax, copyright, finance, marketing, selling, pricing and costing have been updated and expanded.

Visual Artists and the Law - EPUB format

The EPUB versions of the Visual Artists and the Law eBOOK. 

Here you can download the EPUB versions of publication Visual Artists and the Law.

To go back to the PDF versions click here

Other Organisations
Music Rights Australia

Music Rights Australia is an organisation that protects the creative interests of artists within the Australian music community through educational initiatives, government lobbying and the protection of artists’ copyrights.