Arts Law 2005 Year in Review

31st December 2005

I’m feeling inspired (but also a little tired) thinking about everything we’ve done at Arts Law during 2005. I’m writing this in a hotel room in Cairns after spending the day in the regional town of Mareeba in North Queensland presenting our Artists in the Black (AITB) workshops with Aboriginal lawyer, Sam Joseph Tomorrow we’ll travel to Innesfail to present the last of the AITB regional workshops for the year.

Arts Law is very pleased that the Australia Council is funding AITB for its 3rd year in 2006 . The success of AITB is not only due to the efforts of the Indigenous staff Sam Joseph and Blanch Lake but also because of the support and commitment given by the whole Arts Law team. The relationships we developed with Indigenous arts organisations around the country have also played an important role in promoting AITB and conducting the educational sessions. We would like to acknowledge the contributions of ANKAAA in the NT and the Kimberleys, UMI Arts in North Queensland, Tandanya in SA and the Koori Business Network in Victoria.

Education has been an important part of Arts Law’s activities in 2005, with Arts Law Weeks held in Victoria, Tasmania, the Hunter and Illawarra regions in NSW, the NT, plus numerous papers delivered at conferences and seminars across Australia. These are in addition to the educational activities of AITB which have taken us to Arnhem Land, Borroloola, Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and the Tiwi Islands in the NT, Perth and Kununurra in WA, Launceston in Tasmania, Newcastle and Wollongong in NSW, Adelaide, Melbourne, as well as Townsville and Cairns in Queensland. Arts Law has made over 85 presentations in 20 different geographical locations around Australia.

All this has been achieved by Arts Law’s staff on top of maintaining the telephone legal advice service and arranging face to face appointments for our clients with our pro bono lawyers. To date, 2200 legal advices have been given and 333 extended consultations have been arranged, but still the demand constantly outstrips our ability to deliver the legal advice service, with Arts Law having to close the advice queue approximately 20% of the time during the year.

In this regard, Arts Law has been assisted in our legal advice service by the 200+ volunteer lawyers who make such a fabulous contribution to Arts Law. For the 2nd year, Arts Law will be recognising the outstanding efforts of 24 lawyers, by presenting them with an original limited edition print commissioned by Arts Law. This year Arts Law has selected the etchings of Cassie Noel, a final year printmaking student from Sydney College of the Arts. The lawyers who will be presented with the print are:

Charles Alexander (Minter Ellison), Stephen Boyle (Australian Film Commission), Alec Christie (Middletons Lawyers), Stefano Del Monaco (Monaco Lawyers), Michael Easton (Brett Oaten Solicitors), Kasey Ekert (Simpsons Solicitors), Ian Enright (Ebsworth & Ebsworth), Stephanie Faulkner (Jackson McDonald), Marie Foyle (Grundy Television Limited), Adrian Goss (Beyond International Limited), Matthew Hall (Swaab Attorneys), Sara Hofman (Allens Arthur Robinson), Peter Le Guay (Cowley Hearne), Raena Lea-Shannon (Frankel Lawyers), Ross McLean (Baker & McKenzie), Naomi Messenger (Freehills), Jules Munro (Simpsons Solicitors), Gibson Owen (Clinch Neville Long), Roone Richardson (Roone Richardson Lawyers), Darren Sanicki (Marshalls & Dent Lawyers), Gulley Shimeld (Beyond Production Pty Ltd), Kristin Stammer (Freehills), Deborah Tobias (Hillman Laxon Tobias), Mark Williams (Norton White).

Arts Law has been working to increase the number of lawyers who do pro bono work for us. Following a function held in Melbourne in August, hosted by law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, 11 Victorian lawyers joined our panel increasing the legal advice services available to Victorian artists (and a good thing too with about 25% of Arts Law’s services being delivered to Victorians).

To help Arts Law further develop our services in Victoria we established a Victorian Advisory Council, which involves our Victorian Board members Justice Peter Heerey of the Federal Court and Professor Andrew Kenyon, Director of Centre for Media and Communications Law at Melbourne University as well as the following leading legal minds:
Justice Alan Goldberg of the Federal Court, Mark Dreyfus QC, Stephen Stern - Partner of Corrs Cahmbers Westgarth, Peter Chalk, - Partner of Blake Dawson Waldron and
Kimberley Weatherall of Melbourne University and Deputy Director of IPRIA.

The 2005 Arts Law Week in Melbourne was so successful thanks to the hard work of the Victorian Arts Law Consortium (a body comprised of Victorian arts and legal organisations) that we are already working on next year’s events with the support of the Victorian Law Foundation.

Our AITB service launched a new series of comic/information sheets during NAIDOC week in July which cover copyright, contracts, moral rights and Indigenous culture and intellectual property (ICIP). Over 9000 comics have been distributed to date. If you haven’t seen them yet, have a look at the Indigenous section on our website

The relaunch of our website was another of the year’s achievement thanks to Administration Manager, Garey Campbell, our former Administration officers, Adori Bubble, and Hannah Cox, the designers Redant and the funders of the project, the Australia Council.

One of the things you may notice when browsing the website is that currently many of our sample agreements are unavailable as they are being updated. Slowly but surely this is happening and the new improved versions will definitely be worth the wait.

Arts Law was also very pleased to publish the 2nd edition of the Arts Insurance Handbook this year. Thanks not only to the authors, Catherine Fargher and Seth Richardson, but also the lawyers at Henry Davis York who spent many hours reviewing the draft, IAG and the NSW Ministry for the Arts for funding the project plus the generous donation of Stuart Leslie, a great supporter of the arts, who sadly passed away on 11 November 2005.

We would also like to celebrate some of this years funding successes, with funding for AITB from the Australia Council secured for 2006, new funding for AITB from the NSW Ministry for the Arts; a grant from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW for the AITB comics, the Victorian Law Foundation’s support of Victorian Arts Law Week, the inaugural Arts Law Week in the Hunter supported by the NSW Ministry for the Arts and Illawarra Arts Law Week supported by Wollongong City, as well as the partnership with the Koori Business Network and pro bono contribution of law firm Ebsworth and Ebsworth to provide education to help get Victorian Indigenous arts businesses ready for the Commonwealth Games.

Finally, I’d like to note the advocacy and law reform issues that Arts Law worked on during 2005 and some of the issues which will keep us on our toes in 2006. The year started with a ruling from the Tax Office on what it means to be carrying on a business as a professional artist. Arts Law together with advocacy partners, Viscopy, NAVA and Australian Copyright Council, has continued to press for the introduction of a resale royalty in Australia – a decision by the Attorney General being imminent.

We were actively involved with a range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous arts organisations about the new intellectual property clauses that had found their way into many funding agreements.

Arts Law also made submissions on changes needed to the fair dealing provisions in the Copyright Act, advocating for greater recognition of parody, and we supported the introduction of copyright for directors.

Of considerable concern is the increasing focus of Government on censorship and the introduction of laws which will impact on Australian creators’ freedom of expression. The potential for the sedition provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act to silence criticism of the Government runs contrary to fundamental rights that Australian creators take for granted. Without a Bill of Rights or a constitution which guarantees these rights, Australia’s artists are understandably getting worried.

Arts Law has also noticed the censorship tentacles reaching further into the visual arts world, with the classification of moving image art by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, and the recent investigation by the Standing Committee of Attorney Generals as to whether there is a need to restrict the right to take photographs in public places.

So we need stay vigilant in order to protect the cultural rights of all Australians. Particularly, there is a strong need to develop adequate protections for Indigenous peoples’ right to their cultural heritage. The more the AITB staff travel Australia and talk to Indigenous communities, the more we appreciate the woeful inadequacies of current protections and the anger and frustration this is causing. Arts Law will be pushing this issue with vigor in 2006 and we will be urging Governments to implement reforms that provide better protection for Indigenous heritage in Australia.

So I pay Tribute to the magnificent efforts of our staff, thank all of Arts Laws friends for their support throughout 2005 and wish everyone all the best for the festive season and a safe, happy and creative New Year.