• A gallery sells your work on consignment but won’t pay – what do you do?

    We all want to get paid for our work, right? Imagine you have given your artworks to a gallery to sell and they don’t pass on the proceeds. This is sadly a very common experience. What do you do when the gallery won’t give you your money?

  • A photographer discovers her photos are being sold online without permission

    Carmel Metcalf, an amateur photographer based in Moonbi, NSW, approached Arts Law for help when she discovered, to her dismay, that her photos were being sold as canvas prints online without her permission. By way of background, Carmel had previously been asked by this third party if he could use her photos for non-commercial use in relation to his business.

  • A photographer finds her photos online without her permission – what next?

    Arts Law was approached by a professional photographer who was concerned about retaining copyright in photographs that she had taken professionally. She had taken multiple photos of a friend and had given them copies to show their family. She later discovered that some of the photos had been uploaded to Facebook without her permission or attributing her as the photographer.  She was very worried about the effect on her ownership of copyright in the photos and her ability to use them again in the future.

  • A visual artist discovers another artist is copying parts of her artwork – how should you react?

    Arts Law was approached by an artist who instructed us that she had discovered parts of her artwork were copied and incorporated into the artwork of another artist and made available for sale online.

  • Albert Namatjira – copyright and a will

    Albert Namatjira is one of Australia’s most well-known and celebrated Indigenous artists, however his family’s ability to have any legal influence over the ongoing cultural and economic management of his artworks after his death was compromised by the Public Trustee’s failure to appreciate the value and significance of copyright.

  • An Alternative Way to Resolve Disputes: Settling a dispute between an artist and Government

    Jason Passfield contacted Arts Law when he believed a design he had created had been used in circumstances that went beyond the scope of the permission he had originally granted to the Queensland Government.

  • Ananguku Arts and Cultural Aboriginal Corporation: Infrastructure Upgrade Program – APY Lands

    Ananguku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation (Anaguku Arts) is an Aboriginal owned and governed organisation that assists the professional development of Indigenous artists. Ananguku Arts supports Aboriginal artmaking and cultural maintenance across South Australia, and helps build a dynamic arts industry in South Australia and across Australia. A particular focus is the support of Indigenous community art centres.

  • 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.

  • Arts Law works with Australian Book Review to improve the terms of its “2018 Calibre Essay Prize”

    Arts Law regularly reviews the terms and conditions (Ts and Cs) of competitions and rates them out of 5, for their fairness to artists.  For example, Arts Law recently reviewed Australian Book Review’s “2018 Calibre Essay Prize” (this was a competition for a single non-fiction essay of 3,000 to 6,000 words in English, with cash prizes and publication opportunities).

  • Auburn City Council: Best Practice and Licensing Images for Merchandise

    Auburn City Council is a vibrant council in the heart of Western Sydney and is host to a unique fusion of cultures from around the world. As the Arts Coordinator at Auburn City Council, Jenny Cheeseman plays an active role in supporting the growth and development of the artistic community, helping local artists to gain access to council resources and link-up with other artists and community partners on joint and individual projects.

  • 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.  

  • Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair: Creating a Non-Profit Business Structure

    Established in 2007, the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is an annual cultural event showcasing visual artworks from over 40 Indigenous owned and incorporated art centres. The Fair was initially managed by an interim Steering Committee made up of representatives from ANKAAA, DESART and Indigenous art centre managers. However, following a review of their governance structure in 2010, they decided to follow recommendations to register as a not-for-profit foundation, to help support the ongoing vision and management of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair.

  • David Beaumont Case Study – Do I need permission to use this old photo in my work?

    David Beaumont is a Melbourne based visual artist whose works are held in private collections in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. He is a five time finalist in the ANL Maritime Art Prize and has exhibited in over a dozen solo exhibitions since 1999. In late 2010, he contacted Arts Law regarding an exhibition he was in the process of creating which addressed the controversial and highly emotional theme of terminal illness and euthanasia.

  • Deborah Mills: Sharing a gallery space with other artists

    Deborah Mills contacted Arts Law to determine what kind of agreement would be suitable to have in place with external artists for short-term exhibitions. We advised her on this issue and helped her prepare an effective agreement.

  • Desart – Best practice for art centres: a uniform employment contract for managers

    At the request of Desart, AITB undertook to assist in the preparation of standardized contracts and employment conditions for art centre staff in the Western Desert area.

  • Document Review Guides Artist Away from Inappropriate Contract

    Sometimes you just don't know if a contract is right for you, and this case study shows just how important it is to have your agreements checked out before you sign.

  • 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.

  • Elcho Island (Galiwin’ku) artists, Mapuru, and Koskela:Yuta Badayala (In A New Light).

    Yuta Badayala (In A New Light) is a collaborative project between Indigenous weavers from the Galiwin'ku Elcho Island community and Mapuru and Koskela, an Australian design company. This case study looks at the processes involved in establishing a collaborative project, the protocols and the possible agreements to put in place.

  • Elcho Island Arts Centre – when is an export permit required to exhibit artwork overseas?

    For over 18 years, the Elcho Island Arts Centre has been supporting and representing indigenous artists from the local Yolngu communities on Elcho Island, Northern Territory. Traditionally, the Yolngu artists of Elcho Island have always incorporated different fauna and flora species, such as plant fibers and feathers, into their artwork. The women of the Yolngu community are renowned for their weaving skillsand create works of art woven from the fibres of the pandanus plant (pandanus spiralus), which is a species of shrubs that grows on Elcho Island.

  • 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.

  • Jackie Moore: Someone wants to use my story! Now what?

    Jackie Moore, an emerging writer from Queensland contacted Arts Law for advice on how she can protect her copyright in her writing.

  • 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 http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2011/02/10/3135519.htm 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

  • Joe Betros: I want to write a screenplay based on a short story — will I infringe copyright?

    Joe Betros, a freelance film writer and director from Melbourne, had found a story in an anthology of Australian short stories which he wanted to adapt into a screenplay. He wanted to know what sort of permission he needed and so, in 2014, he approached Arts Law seeking legal advice.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mondo Rondo Jewellery licenses Indigenous artworks

    Mondo Rondo Jewellery designs and produces Australian jewellery for both the local and international market. Mondo Rondo approached Viscopy, as the organisation that is set up to represent the artists’ rights and manage copyright licensing. Viscopy assisted Mondo Rondo realise their ideas and vision for the Imprint Indigenous Collections.

  • Moses Mcabe: “Trumpocalypse”

    The election of US President Trump has undoubtedly stirred buzz in the Internet world and artists are responding to the impact he is having on the world. But this brings with it legal issues for artists, including for musician Moses Mcabe.

  • 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.

  • Sarrita King and Resale Royalty Rights

    Sarrita King is a contemporary Indigenous artist registered for the resale royalty scheme. The resale royalty scheme for visual artists is a new scheme, brought in by the federal government in June 2010.  Under the scheme, commercial resales of artworks must be reported and artists are entitled to a 5% royalty when their works are sold for at least $1000.

  • Snapshot of just some of the artists that Arts Law’s Artists in the Black service has helped

    Arts Law helps artists from many different artforms and areas of Australia. Here is a snapshot of just some of the fantastic artists we have assisted in the past.

  • 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.

  • Switchflick Productions: getting permission to use archival images & footage in a documentary

    Switchflick Productions is the brainchild of Sophia Himi and Vivian Wong (pictured above; reproduced with permission), co-directors who produced a documentary about a renowned Former First Lady in Southeast Asia.

    The duo contacted Arts Law in relation to issues they were having with securing archival images and footage from the former First Lady’s public life, held in an international Archive. Sophia and Vivian were concerned that amendments to their own standard copyright clearance form required by the Archive would result in their film being published or reproduced without their permission. They were also concerned about unspecified copying costs required by the Archive.

  • Tanya Hendy: Navigating filmmakers through the complicated (but possible!) music licensing process

    Tanya Hendy is a filmmaker who approached Arts Law for advice about including an excerpt of an instrumental version of a very well-known 80’s pop song in her film.

  • The Brow Horn Orchestra: On the road to success

    The Brow Horn Orchestra (http://www.facebook.com/thebrowhornorchestra) 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.

  • The Town of Victoria Park: Best Practice in Public Art

    The Town of Victoria Park on the Swan River in Western Australia is a vibrant, urban community. Its local government authority understands the important role played by public art in shaping an exciting, creative and unique environment. The Town’s Public Art Masterplan envisages expenditure of over $700,000 on new public artworks in 2013-2015.  Additionally  the farsighted ‘percent for art’ policy requires developers of projects with a value of $5 million or more to make a monetary contribution of 1-1.25% of the value of the development to the Town for a public artwork or incorporate a work of art of that value into the development.

  • 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.

  • Tony Hollis: Performers’ rights to payment and royalties

    Tony, a musician, realised he had been paid below the industry standard rate for some voice work he did for a radio advertisement jingle. He contaced Arts Law to find out what his rights were.

  • Trade marks: A band needs to protect their reputation

    For any band, reputation is a crucial element. When another band uses a name that is the same or sounds similar to theirs, this can raise some reputational concerns. Arts Law was recently approached by a well established band that had this exact issue.

  • UMI Arts: Creating Fair Employment Agreements

    UMI Arts is the peak Indigenous arts and cultural organisation for Far North Queensland. It is a not-for-profit company based in Cairns and managed by an all-Indigenous Board of Directors. In January 2012, it approached Artists in the Black (AITB) for support with reviewing its employment agreements.

  • 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. 

  • Yiwarra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route

    In late 2006, the Perth-based non-profit cultural organisation FORM initiated Ngurra Kuju Walyja – One Country, One People — The Canning Stock Route Project. The project began with modest aims to present an Aboriginal history of the Canning Stock Route through art and oral history and establish economic and professional development opportunities in remote communities. The project quickly grew to unexpected proportions. Within a year 110 Aboriginal artists and contributors were involved from 10 art and culture centres across 17 remote communities in the Goldfields, Pilbara and Kimberley, with a team of nine Aboriginal and five non-Aboriginal co-curators, multimedia crew and cultural advisors. The Canning Stock Route collection, which includes around 130 artworks, was defined by the curatorial team over two years and was acquired by the National Museum of Australia in December 2008.

  • Zoë Lea: Protecting original designs from copycats

    Zoë Lea is a fashion designer based in Melbourne. She operates the fashion label Unempire as a sole trader, selling her own designs online using the service Big Cartel. Zoë has noticed on a number of occasions that her designs have been copied by Chinese wholesalers and made available for purchase online and she wanted to know what she could do to stop it.

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