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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Info Sheets
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.


Copyright provides a way for artists to protect and monetise their creativity. Knowing how to license copyright and earn a royalty gives artists a way to make money from their work. Knowing what to do if someone makes an unauthorised copy is also vital. This information sheet will introduce you to some of the copyright basics.

Arts Law has a number of sample copyright licences, as well as an information sheet on ‘Copyright infringement and letter of demand”. 

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.

Copyright Collecting Societies

Collecting societies collect royalties on behalf of their members. Their members are artists, authors, musicians and other owners of copyright in works (such as music, lyrics, visual art and literature) or other copyright material (such as sound recordings, films, and television broadcasts). They may also be visual artists entitled to resale royalties in respect of their visual artworks.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organisation which provides a set of free, generic licences which creators of intellectual property can use to distribute their work to the public digitally. It was launched in the United States in 2001 founded on the concept that people can contribute to a shared 'commons' of creative works by effectively giving up certain rights in a copyright work and allowing others freely to use, adapt, modify and distribute this work.

Cross platform creativity – online and digital media

Artists now have a vast range of opportunities for across all mediums to express their ideas, fund their projects, create and distribute their works, and interact with their audience. This information sheet addresses the legal issues that can arise for creators working with and across multiple platforms.

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.

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

Legal Issues for Bloggers

Posting or publishing written work online, whether on your personal or artist website, on  social media (including Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest) or via a blog can create a number of legal issues including copyright, defamation or trade practices. This information sheet discusses some of these issues and should be read with our information sheet entitled Writers & authors: useful resources.

Moral rights

Moral rights protect the personal relationship between a creator and their work even if the creator no longer owns the work, or the copyright in the work. Moral rights concern the creator’s right to be properly attributed or credited, and the protection of their work from derogatory treatment. This information sheet provides an overview of moral rights and what constitutes infringement, it should be read in conjunction with the Moral rights infringement and letter of demand information sheet.

Moral rights infringement and letter of demand

Moral rights protect the personal relationship between a creator and their work even if the creator no longer owns the work, or the copyright in the work. If you receive legal advice that your moral rights have been infringed, it may be appropriate to send a letter of demand. This information sheet explains what a letter of demand is and contains a sample letter of demand. This information sheet should be read in conjunction with the information sheet on Moral rights

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

Musicians and composers: useful resources

This information sheet lists resources, including sample agreements, which musicians, composers, songwriters and bands may find useful. It includes a brief description of the different music copyright collecting societies including APRA|AMCOS and PPCA,  the resources available on the website of the Arts Law Centre of Australia and relevant national and state music organisations.

Performers’ rights

Actors, circus performers, musicians, dancers and other live performers may have performers’ rights in their performances. These rights include the right to control the recording and broadcast of live performances, limited copyright in certain sound recordings of live performances and moral rights. This information sheet provides an overview of performers’ rights and what constitutes infringement. These rights can be managed through contract, such as Performer’s Release, Session Musician’s Release and One-off Performance Partnership Deed.

Putting your film or photo online

This information sheet outlines the legal issues artists or arts organisations should consider when planning to put films and photos online.

Social Media for Artists

The Internet provides artists with a platform to access a worldwide audience for their work.  Social media, in particular, is a ready-made do-it-yourself mechanism for distributing, promoting, exhibiting and even selling creative content whether music, visual art, film, literature or other multi-platform art forms. This information sheet addresses the legal issues that can arise for artists using social media to publish their work.

Street photographer’s rights

Can I take a photograph in public that contains images of people I don’t know? Can I take a photo of a famous landmark or of the front of someone’s house and later sell it?

This information sheet aims to provide you with the answers to these and other questions that may arise when you are taking photographs in and of public spaces. It also aims to provide those you encounter with a statement of your rights to minimise the possibility of harassment or threatened legal action. So carry this in your pocket and be prepared.

Telling people’s stories on film

Film makers sometimes choose to base their stories on real events and real people. Documentaries are one example of film makers telling the stories of real people. This information sheet includes a sample confidentiality agreement here.

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?

A matter of fact: non-fiction and copyright

Writers and filmmakers will often rely on research material when creating a new work. While it is certainly possible to infringe copyright in non-fiction works, copyright will not be infringed merely because the facts dealt with in the non-fiction work are incorporated into the later work.

Answers for Artists: a Guide to Basic Legal Issues

Arts Law's new 2012 publication Answers for Artists: a Guide to Basic Legal Issues for Artists has been released in English.

The original 2007 version is available in 2 bi-lingual versions, Chinese/English and Arabic/English.

This is a free resource.

Arts Law goes to Geneva and WIPO

WIPO members continue to debate a new treaty for the protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions. Arts Law’s Executive Director, Robyn Ayres, who participated in the 22nd meeting of WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee on Traditional Cultural Expressions, reports here.

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.

Camera rolling and… Action! Top 10 legal issues for filmmakers to consider

Filmmaking is a highly creative process involving the intense collaboration of a vast number of people in order for a production to be completed successfully, on budget and on time.  Before getting the show on the road, a number of legal issues have to be considered by the filmmakers.  As essential as a camera, these legal issues are key to the exploitability of the film and the protection of the filmmakers themselves.  

In this article, Arts Law outlines the Top 10 legal issues all filmmakers should contemplate prior to commencing the creative filmmaking process.

Cameras in Public

On a warm November evening the Gunnery and Arts Law played host to some forty artists (and a few lawyers) for the event Cameras In Public. With the tone set by a t-shirt with the slogan, "I'm a photographer not a criminal" the next two hours were filled with illuminating – and often very lively – discussion.

Can ‘Can Art’ navigate legal pitfalls?

The prevalence of graffiti on the street and corporate funded festivals for spray- can art are an interesting mixture of illegal and legal manifestations of the same art-form. Arts Law recently advised on the legal issues involved in using graffiti or spray can art.

Caveat Artist: Who owns the rights in freelance photos?

Arts Law often received calls from freelance photographers on the question of who owns copyright in commissioned photos. A lot of commissioners automatically assume they own copyright in the work they commission, as well as owning the negatives, but this is simply not the case.

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.

Code of Conduct for Copyright Collecting Societies

Commencing July 2002, the organisations that collect licences on behalf of copyright owners for various uses of copyright work in Australia adopted a code of conduct, called the Code of Conduct for Copyright Collecting Societies (“the Code”).

Copyright and the Digital Economy (ALRC Inquiry 2012-2013)

Digital technology provides creative opportunities as well as challenges for artists, rights holders and consumers of copyrighted material. The emergence of social networking sites, video sharing sites and the further evolution of search engines have resulted in what some commentators describe as Web 2.0. Those internet developments, and the roll out of the Australian National Broadband Network, highlight the importance of the digital economy and the potential for future opportunities and economic and cultural development through new digital technologies. Arts Law’s submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry is an opportunity to put forward the concerns of artists in light of any suggested amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act).

Copyright in Jokes: Whose Line is it Anyway?

Whilst you are unlikely to run into any trouble telling a few of Seinfeld's jokes to your mates at the pub, the situation may change if you decide to incorporate the jokes into a book, an advertising campaign or your own stand up comedy routine.

Copyright in the Digital Economy – Part 2: The submission of Arts Law to the ALRC Discussion Paper

The proposal to introduce a U.S. style ‘fair use’ exception to Australian copyright law produces a stark division between the supporters of an open-ended fair use exception and those of the opinion that the evolution of copyright exceptions in the digital environment should follow that path of narrowly defined fair dealing provisions.

Australian Law Reform Commission
Australian Law Reform Commission
Defending Your Film Online

James Heller discusses digital fingerprinting and gives some quick tips for protecting your film on the internet

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.

Displaying visual art on the Internet

Lindsay Johnston discusses the new best practice guidelines Displaying Visual Art on the Internet produced by Art Network Australia Pty Ltd and Arts Law.

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.

Fear factor: films and the copyright clearance jungle

Director/producer Katy Chevigny tells aspiring filmmakers that the only film you can make cheaply, and not have to worry about rights clearance is about your grandma, yourself, or your dog. Kimberlee Weatherall looks at the copyright costs involved in filmmaking.

From Pantsdown to Kenny – Satire still at Large!

Satire and comedy are important tools used by artists, writers, cartoonists, comedians and political commentators alike to express their views while (with a bit of luck) making us laugh! 

The recent case involving the ABC and political commentator, Chris Kenny, focussed our attention on the relationship between satire and defamation and whether or not the courts have a ‘sense of humour’ when it comes to satire and comedy that impact on a person’s reputation. 

This article sets out some of the key issues that should be considered when creating a humorous or satirical piece, to assist people in assessing any defamation risk.

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

Games, Television and Downloads

Katherine Giles, Alison Patchett, Lauren Mason and Samantha Joseph provide an overview of some of the important arts-related cases of 2005.

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.

Hang the DJ?

Recently a number of Sydney based DJs were found to have infringed copyright by producing and selling unauthorised “mix tapes”. What does this mean for DJs and the rest of us who make the occasional mix tape to use in the car?

I Like Your Style! Part I: copyright infringement or not?

Very often artworks of all kinds are based on or inspired by the work of other artists. Indeed some people think that there is no such thing as an entirely 'original' work and that all art owes a debt to the work that has gone before. At the same time people often invest a lot of time and effort into developing a distinctive style of work and often feel quite proprietorial about it. What protection does copyright offer these artists?

Integrity issues

Christine Hutchison looks at how some other countries have treated the moral right of integrity and considers how this right may be interpreted in Australia.

Just Blog It

Katherine Giles reports on the legal issues that bloggers may have to deal with.

Laugh, Kookaburra Laugh

As a follow-up to the landmark Kookaburra decision earlier this year, the Federal Court of Australia has now made its ruling on the damages recoverable from Sony BMG and EMI Songs

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.

Licensed to Jive

Playing music at your place of business may not be a simple as you think. Ant Horn investigates when you will need a music licence.

Meet the Lawyer: Harold Littler, McKays Solicitors, Brisbane

The Arts Law Centre of Australia would not be able to achieve its mission of advising artists and arts organisations on their legal rights and obligations without the assistance of the lawyers on its panel of volunteer lawyers. Those lawyers donate their time to carry out some of Arts Law’s essential tasks, such as the delivery of its document review service (DRS). One of those lawyers is Harold Littler, Senior Consultant at McKays Solicitors in Brisbane.

Mighty Kookaburra swoop Men At Work

Musicians beware: in light of last month's Federal Court decision over 'Land Down Under', if musicians do not obtain the appropriate authorisation to use another musician’s work in their recordings they may be liable for ‘ripping off’ the original, even if the similarity between the music is not instantly recognisable.

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.

Moral Rights and Indigenous Communities

The Commonwealth Government has recently said it will introduce a Copyright Amendment (Indigenous Communal Moral Rights) Bill (ICMR Bill). Currently, there is no legal protection afforded to Indigenous communities to prevent unauthorised and derogatory treatment of works and films that draw on traditional customs or beliefs. Samantha Joseph and Erin Mackay explain the proposed amendments and Arts Law's response.

Mugs on mugs and the many faces of merchandise

What is the situation where you want to take the photo of a famous or not so famous person and have it printed on a coffee mug or a T-Shirt. There are a number of things you should consider before you start rolling things off the production line.

Museums & Galleries: Obligations in the Age of Digital and Moral Rights

Ordinarily, a museum or gallery will create marketing and advertising materials to promote its collection or upcoming exhibitions. These materials may contain a reproduction of some of the works in the exhibition. What is the position if the museum or gallery wants to digitise these works for the purpose of archiving or for inclusion on its website?

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.

Musicians’ Copyright Royalties in the Face of a Changing Industry

Copyright is an essential part of making money in the music industry. By and large recordings have been the main source of copyright royalties, however in today's climate of declining record sales, and with digital sales still yet to truly prove themselves, are artists losing their main source of income? Or are other uses of music, such as in film, broadcasts and live performances, sufficient to fill the void? What about live concerts and the festival scene (which, in contrast to record sales, are thriving)? Here we will look at the different types of copyright that exist in music, and discuss how songwriters and other musicians can earn royalties from exploiting them. We will ask how these royalties are affected by a newly emerging music industry, one increasingly based around live performances rather than studio recordings.

Naming rights

Donald Richardson outlines his concerns as regards the failure of newspapers to comply with moral rights laws regarding the attribution of artists.

New room to lampoon: The new fair dealing exception for parody or satire

Australian comics, writers, artists and performers practising the arts of parody and satire have new legal freedom to use copyright material in their work. On 11 December 2006 a new fair dealing exception for the purposes of 'parody or satire' (the 'new exception') came into effect under the Australian Copyright Act.

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.

Photo Reproduction of Artworks

Photos of artworks can only be taken with the permission of the owner of the copyright in the underlying work (usually the artist) as both are a substantial reproduction. Assuming however that such permission has been obtained, what are the photographer's rights?

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.

Problematic public sculptures provisions

The Arts Law Centre of Australia is concerned about section 65 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) which has serious commercial implications for artists who create public art. Daniela Simone and Ryan McConville examine these implications and outline Arts Law's proposals for reform.

Protecting the Sacred Wandjina: the Land and Environment Court goes to the Blue Mountains

In 2010, a gallery in the Blue Mountains in NSW erected a large sculpture featuring Wandjinas, the creation spirit sacred to the Worrora, Wunumbal and Ngarinyin Aboriginal tribes in Western Australia. Artists in the Black was contacted by both the people of the Katoomba area and Mowanjum Arts which represents artists from the three language groups who are the traditional custodians of the Wandjina law and sites of the Western Kimberley. The Dharug and Gundungurra Aboriginal people of the Blue Mountains area were mortified that this conduct was occurring on their traditional lands and felt embarrassed and responsible. All five groups were upset by the unauthorized and disrespectful appropriation of important cultural imagery. They contacted Artists in the Black.

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.

Rights for Performers

Performers' moral rights commenced in Australia on 26 July 2007. Deborah Doctor examines the law protecting performers' rights, the new performers' moral rights and the situations in which performers will co-own the copyright in sound recordings of their live performances.

Roadshow Films v iiNet - A Very Brief Summary

Some of our readers may have followed the Roadshow Films v iiNet case with interest, read about it in the papers, or tweeted about it. The Full Court agreed that iiNet was not liable for its users' copyright infringements via the BitTorrent file sharing network. However, it is clear from the appeal decision that the iiNet case will not be the last word on ISP responsibility for online copyright infringement.

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.

Shall we dance: dancing and copyright law

Dancers and choreographers have to deal with a myriad of legal issues as performers and creators. Katherine Giles examines the basics of dancing and copyright law in Australia.

Snapping In The Street

Anyone can do photography these days, but awareness of the legal issues around the taking of photographs is less common. Arts Law looks at some of the key issues around popular photography subjects in public spaces.

So you want to self-publish

It's been said that everyone has a book in them, and nowadays it seems that everyone can write and show that book to the world. Arts Law receives many enquiries from writers seeking more information about self-publishing, or who run into problems when they seek to self-publish their work. In this two-part series, we take a look at what it means to self-publish both in print and online, and give an overview of some of the main issues to think about when self-publishing.

The Grey Zone of Creation

So you have a great idea for a new book, play or film? But there’s only one potential hitch. You have drawn, in part or fully, on a major element of a previous published work – either a famous fictional character, plot or scene.

The Latest Word on Copyright in Factual Compilations

Do you handle information such as subscriber databases or publish factual documents like event guides and programmes? Amanda Andreazza, Senior Associate at Allens Arthur Robinson, takes a look at what the recent High Court decision could mean for you.

The Orphan Works Problem

A question often asked of Arts Law is whether it is all right for an artist to use a work, for example a photograph, when they can't get in contact with the original artist to ask permission. An upcoming copyright law review may be an opportunity to make it easier to use copyright material where the owner can't be identified or found.

The Rights Stuff

The issue of ownership, control over and remuneration from the product of one's labour has been one that performers have had to fight to defend since time immemorial. Over the years Australian performers have for the most part succeeded in this regard, collectively negotiating a significant number of rights through the agreements Equity have reached with producers.

The Unofficial Band Fansite

If you want to put up a website all about your favourite band make sure not to step on any toes. When it comes to unofficial websites some groups take a pretty harsh stand

The Writer is King: Copyright in Devised Theatre

You have just been given a script for a new play or film. The question arises as to who owns the copyright in this production? Is it the director? The producer? The script-writer? The actors? What about the script?

Trade mark protection and ICIP: How does Australia fare?

Ros Stein explains and compares how trade mark laws in Canada, New Zealand and Australia can be used to protect and uphold the rights of Indigenous artists in relation to Indigenous Culture and Intellectual Property (ICIP).

Unauthorised photography on the internet

Katherine Giles discusses the issues raised in the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General discussion paper, 'Unauthorised Photographs on the Internet and Ancillary Privacy Issues'.

Upcycling in fashion and staying legal

Upcycling is a term given to adding value to recycled products through transformation of the original or the creation of something new by using parts of pre-existing products. Upcycling is a new trend promoted by those interested in a more sustainable lifestyle.

Uploading your work on to a website

With very little effort you can create your own website to showcase your work. Alternatively, you can display your work on someone else's website. Before you do this, however, there are important issues you should consider before making your work available online.

WIPO’s capacity building tools for Indigenous cultural heritage

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is developing various capacity-building tools to guide indigenous communities as well as museums, archives and other cultural repositories in managing intellectual property (IP) issues when recording, digitising and disseminating intangible cultural heritage, especially 'traditional cultural expressions'. This article reports further on this ongoing work.

Case Studies
Australian Cartoonists’ Association: Cartoonists’ Rights

The Australian Cartoonists’ Association (ACA)was engaged in negotiations with the Australian Associated Press (AAP) regarding a proposed agreement between the AAP and the ACA’s members to enable the AAP to act as a selling agent to news publishers in respect of the cartoons and caricatures created by ACA members.  

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.

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

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.

Mandy Davis and her “Emu” painting

Artists in the Black client Mandy Davis, has received a settlement from a company for their infringement of her copyright and her moral rights. The case is a great example of how AITB works.

Michael Meszaros’ “Distant conversations”

Michael Meszaros is the sculptor who created the well-known piece ‘Distant Conversations’, which for 17 years was installed in the foyer of the Telstra Building in Melbourne and generally considered one of the top ten contemporary sculptures in the Melbourne CBD.

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.

Prisoners have copyright and moral rights too

Whilst in prison PV had participated in a rehabilitation program and had created a painting as part of this program. PV was asked to allow his painting to be hung in a recreation area of the prison. In return PV was to receive $120 worth of "buy-ups" at the prison shop. PV never received the "buy-ups".

Susan Schmidt: What can you do if your artwork is used without your permission?

Susan Schmidt is a Queensland-based fine-arts painter, graphic designer and award-winning illustrator. Her works have featured in numerous exhibitions within Australia and overseas, including the Chelsea International Fine Art Collective in New York in 2012 and Contemporary Istanbul in 2014. Susan approached Arts Law in 2014 after she saw one of her artworks reproduced on a book cover without her permission. Susan had created the artwork in question as a commission over twenty years previously and was very surprised to see it on a book cover in her local library.

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.

The moral (rights) of the story

What do you do when infrastructure threatens your art? Arts Law recently assisted the creator of a number of large and well known mosaics in Sydney.

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.

Wamod Namok’s “Kangaroo” - Copyright infringement

In 2005, reproductions of Bardayal Nadjamerrek's "Kangaroo" painting were offered for sale on the internet accompanied by statements that any sales would result in royalties being paid to the artist. Sadly, the reproductions were unauthorised and the artist had never received any royalties.

News & Events
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 responds to the ALRC Copyright Report

On 13 February 2014, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released its final report on Copyright in the Digital Economy.

Most controversially, the report recommends the introduction of fair use in Australia as a defence to copyright infringement replacing the current fair dealing exceptions.

Arts Law Reviews the Terms of Competitions Closing in March 2014

Prizes and competitions can be a great way for artists to gain recognition and promote themselves however, many people don’t read the fine print or understand what they are agreeing to by entering. Arts Law maintains an ongoing watch over the terms and conditions of prizes and competitions for artists in Australia and internationally. This month, we rate 19 competitions closing in March.

Auburn Artists Network

Auburn Artists Network invites you to attend a FREE guest presentation from Senior Solicitor Rebecca Laubi from the Arts Law Centre of Australia. The presentation will cover a number of legal topics relating to your practice as an artist. Legal topics include:

  • Copyright
  • Moral rigjts
  • Using copyright material belonging to others and allowing others to use your own copyright material
Australia’s Health 2012 Art Competition

Arts Law has recently become aware of a competition with some unfavourable terms and conditions for artist entrants, and would like to inform artists of the  consequences of these unfavourable terms and conditions so you can make a more informed decision about whether you wish to enter or not.

Copyright amendment bill

Arts Law provided a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Standing Committee on the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006.

Copyright Moral Rights Seminar

Robyn Ayres, Director of Arts Law, is presenting a FREE interactive and online seminar on Copyright and Moral Rights for Artists.

When: Monday 2 September 7pm

Where: IMA Screening Room Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Art, 420 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley

Copyright or wrong? Copyright basics for artists webinar

Free Webinar 11AM 21st May 2015

Do you create original artworks, text or songs? Do you ever use other’s material in your own or want to give permission to others to use yours? Come along to this introductory free copyright webinar in which we explain the basics of copyright protection. No prior copyright knowledge required, and we promise to break it into easy to chew bits!

Crown copyright

Brief submission to the Federal Government supporting submissions made by Australian Copyright Council and others.

Directors’ copyright

Arts Law made a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee on the need to broaden the very limited rights to copyright for film directors that the Government proposed in June 2005.

Don’t Delete - Freedom of Expression Seminar

Arts Law and NAVA present the first of 3 national seminars on artistic freedom of expression

WHERE: Metro Arts, 109 Edward St Brisbane

WHEN: 6pm Wednesday 19th June

TICKETS: book online at or call (02) 9368 1900

Fair use and fair dealing

Arts Law made a submission to the review by the Federal Government to examine whether changes needed to be made to the fair dealing exceptions in the Copyright Act.

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.

Free Trade Agreement with the USA (USFTA)

Arts Law was a member of the Australian Coalition for Cultural Diversity (ACCD) and party to numerous submissions made by the ACCD on the USFTA.  Arts Law made a submission in April 2004 and gave evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).

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.

May competitions checked by Arts Law

Art prizes and competitions can be a fantastic way for artists to build their reputation and earn income but do you know what rights you might be giving up simply by entering? Arts Law rates prizes and competitions closing in May out of 5 stars for fairness to artists. 

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. 

Playing with the facts

Arts Law session hosted by Writers Victoria

18 March 2013, Melbourne


Join the Arts Law Centre’s Deputy Director Delwyn Everard, barrister Stephen Rebikoff and lawyer Serena Armstrong as they debate the legal issues of writing about real people and real events.

Resale royalty scheme reaches $1million for artists

The Arts Law Centre of Australia is pleased to announce that over $1 million in royalties has been returned to Australian artists thanks to the Australian Government’s resale royalty scheme, administered by Copyright Agency.


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.

The Big Picture - getting your rights right!

Arts Law understands that the legal issues involved in making a film are just as layered as the creative process needed to produce a film! This Arts Law seminar will inform you of the legal basics all film makers should know.

DATE: Thursday 16 May 2013

TIME: 4-6pm

WHERE: The Old Courthouse, Cnr Hartley and Parsons Streets (entry via Parsons Street), Alice Springs

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

Wandjina Sculpture

The controversial Katoomba stone sculpture depicting Wanjina has been vandalised.

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 - Perth

Workshops are being held on:

5 December 2012, Perth.

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.

Wynne Prize

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age both recently discussed the controversy arising around Melbourne artist Sam Leach's Proposal for Landscaped Cosmos, the winner of this years Wynne prize.

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.

Displaying visual art on the internet

The purpose of these guidelines is to codify the best practice for the reproduction and communication of visual art via digital distribution methods in Australia, whether such reproduction or communication is for commercial purposes or otherwise.

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.

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.

Answers for Artists: a Guide to Basic Legal Issues for Artists

Arts Law's new 2012 publication Answers for Artists: a Guide to Basic Legal Issues for Artists has been released in English.

The original 2007 version is available in 2 bi-lingual versions, Chinese/English and Arabic/English.

This is a free resource.

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
Aboriginal Artists Agency Limited

The Aboriginal Artists Agency is a non-for profit organisation that operates a service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create income from the reproduction of works of art. It arranges copyright clearance and licences for individuals wishing to use images of Indigenous artworks.

Attorney-General’s Department

The Attorney-General’s Department website provides some introductory information to copyright and intellectual property.

Australian Performing Right Association (APRA)

APRA administers the public performance and communication rights for musical compositions and lyrics on behalf of authors, composers, music publishers and other music copyright owners.

Australian Screen Director’s Guild Authorship Collecting Society

The ASDACS collects, administers and distributes the royalties owed to Australian and New Zealand film and television directors, arising from “secondary” use (blank video tapes, retransmission of broadcasts by cable and video rental for film and television) of rights, conferred on directors in countries, mostly European, that recognise the authorship of directors.

Copyright Agency Limited (CAL)

CAL manages the copyright of authors, journalists, visual artists, surveyors, photographers and newspaper, magazine and book publishers to license the copying of their works to the general community.

Dream Shield by IP Australia

IP Australia’s new resource, the Dream Shield project, features intellectual property (IP) success stories and tips for Indigenous inventors, designers and business owners. The Dream Shield project shows real examples of how to protect and grow your IP.

IP Australia

IP Australia is the federal government agency that grants rights in patents, designs and trademarks.

Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI)

MIPI is an organisation that conducts investigative, preventative and educational activities in relation to music piracy in Australia. MIPI acts on behalf of the 125 record companies through their association ARIA and over 2,000 songwriters and music publishers through their association AMCOS.

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.


Screenrights is a rights management and royalty collection service for rights holders in film and television. It administers statutory licences that allow educational institutions (school, TAFE or university) and governments to copy material from radio and television.

Word of Life International

Word of Life International acts as an agent of owners of copyright liturgical music to provide copyright licences, collect royalties and otherwise facilitate the availability and use of religious music by churches, schools, and other religious organisations in the South Pacific basin.

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialised agency of the United Nations dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international IP system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.