Four things I wish I’d asked a lawyer… before I formed my band

Ivan Vizintin was Arts Law’s paralegal in 2015, responsible for administering legal queries from artists and arts organisations. He’s also a professional musician. Here, Ivan and Arts Law’s Senior Solicitor, Morris Averill, discuss the issues he wish he’d known about when he was first starting out. 

Protecting The Wandjina

‘Wandjina’ (also called ‘wanjina’ or ounjina’) are the sacred creation spirits and source of cultural law for the Worrora, Wunumbal and Ngarinyin Aboriginal peoples of the Kimberley. The Wandjina established the laws of life, marriage, kinship and obligation to country. They have been artistically depicted in a unique and distinctive form by those language groups for thousands of years, first in rock paintings and now on canvases as a contemporary art form. 

Copyright, Pirates and VPNs

Australia has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world. One only needs to consider the popular television series Game of Thrones, the Season 5 premiere of which was downloaded illegally via torrent websites over 150,000 times by Australians alone.

Crowdfunding Across the Arts

Crowdfunding is now an important way for artists and creators to seek funding for their projects. In 2013, Arts Law published an information sheet, Cross platform creativity – online and digital media, which covered the role of crowdfunding in financing computer games and mobile apps.  Arts Law’s NEW Crowdfunding information sheet expands the topic to recognise that seeking donations or pledges of support is actually relevant to most art forms.

The “Blurred Lines” case – Sometimes it really is just the vibe

After a long legal battle in the US between Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and the estate of Marvin Gaye over the song “Blurred Lines” and it's similarities to “Got to Give it Up”, a jury found there was copyright infringement and ordered the pair to pay US$7.3million. Read more about how the decision was made and whether this could happen in Australia. 

Collage as child pornography and the limits to the right to freedom of expression – Case note

Collage as child pornography and the limits to the right to freedom of expression- Case Note on Johnson v Yore

by Rowena Orr SC and Georgie Coleman of the Victorian Bar


Contemporary artist Paul Yore was charged with (and ultimately acquitted of) a charge of producing child pornography and a charge of possessing child pornography, as a result of his installation at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Art in 2013, entitled Everything Is Fucked 2013.  He is one of a small number of Australian artists to have been charged with a criminal offence as a result of their art, a group that includes Mike Brown, the artist to which Paul Yore was paying homage by the work in question.

This case note discusses the criminal trial of Paul Yore and the Magistrate’s decision:  Johnson v Yore.[2]  It focuses in particular on the issues the decision raises regarding the role of the right to freedom of expression in criminal prosecutions arising from artistic endeavours; the extent to which artificial images (such as collage) can constitute child pornography; and the authority of the police to excise images from an artistic work pursuant to a search warrant.

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.

3D Printing and the Lessons from Napster

Just before the beginning of the new millennium, in May 1999, teenagers Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker launched the program that would change the business model of the music industry forever. In May of the following year, Napster had 20 million users and shared millions of songs worldwide. Napster’s fall from fame was equally meteoric, as record companies and famous artists alike filed lawsuits against Napster for copyright infringement and in February 2001 the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Napster to start charging for songs or else close entirely. But by then the genie was already out of the bottle.

Today in Australia, both government and industry are continuing to come to terms with the file-sharing revolution. As file sharing spreads to the world of 3D objects, Arts Law, investigates the potential issues facing artists and designers alike in the current legal climate.