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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
Barking Wolf contacted Arts Law in early 2017 to seek advice about a number of legal issues that they thought might arise when producing films.
Arts Law will give best practice advice to an arts organisation where we think that the interests of artists will be served by assisting the organisation to develop a fair and balanced agreement. We worked with Bayside City Council to make their terms and conditions fair for their artists.
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.
Since the first Festival in 2005, Little Big Shots has become an iconic annual event. This international children’s film festival held in Melbourne is operated by a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to 'enhancing the media literacy of young people, fostering children's creativity and showcasing the very best in filmmaking for, by and about kids'.
We referred Michael to one of our external pro bono lawyers with book publishing expertise. The free advice session provided to Michael as part of his Arts Law subscription was so helpful that Michael decided to engage that lawyer on a private basis to negotiate with the publisher on several changes to the contract.
Boolarng Nangamai Art & Culture Studios located on the south coast of New South Wales, and one of its unique projects is an online cultural community, in which Aboriginal artists and cultural workers working at the studio conduct online internet conferencing sessions educating subscribers about Aboriginal art and culture.
Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative Ltd approached Artists in the Black (AITB) for assistance with governance issues which were threatening the closure of Boomalli despite a history of over 20 years.
Arts Law recently advised members of a band on the copyright status of a number of their songs after one of the band members had decided to leave the band
We advised a freelance sound designer/music composer on whether he could showcase or sell the music and sound he had created for an animation company to use.
Over the course of 2005, then Arts Law lawyer Katherine Giles and one of our pro bono lawyers gave several advices to writer Carol Langley about her book “Beneath the Sequined Surface”.
A Snapshot of Arts Law's Impact in Australia's arts communities.
Arts Law was approached by Prue Moriarty, an author, who was seeking advice about her novel, The Hunt for Code Polaris, which is a psychological thriller about espionage during the Cold War. Specifically, Prue sought advice on how she could protect the copyright in her novel and avoid defamation risks in circumstances where her fictional story included references to real events, locations and people.
Charles Rolls is a performance artist who has developed a school drug and alcohol awareness program for youth incorporating interactive performance and 3D brain scans. The program and performances utilise short clips from popular music videos and photographs of famous celebrities that Charles sources from the internet. He uses these references to prompt discussion about drug and alcohol abuse with the program participants.
Christine Tschuna is an Wirangu artist with the Ceduna Arts and Cultural Centre. In June 2006 she signed a Licence Reproduction Agreement with a company with produces postcards and tourist memorabilia. After the company stopped returning her calls or emails Christine turned to Artists in the Black for assistance. Arts Law pro bono lawyer Robert Lempens of Camatta Lempens in Adelaide offered to help Christine.
Arts Law advised a professional photographer. The photographer had been commissioned to take commercial photos for a client, a bridal dress retail business. Models and hair and makeup artists were hired. Ordinarily, the photographer provides agreements for his photography services to his clients and has all models sign release forms, however given that he had a good working relationship with his client, they just had a more informal oral agreement in place.
We advised an Indigenous artist who was commissioned to paint a large mural on the suitability of the agreement they had been given to sign.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Arts Law helps an artist assert his moral right of attribution after 20 years
Giles Ryder http://www.ccnoa.org/Giles-Ryder is a visual artist is known for his installations utilising industrial materials: hand-rolled aluminium, auto-lacquer, neon signage, and mirrored and coloured Perspex. His work has attracted attention due to its minimalism, arresting use of colour, and his stylised and visceral use of form.
Mediation as a sensible alternative to court proceedings.
Recently Arts Law was contacted by an author seeking a review of the contract she had negotiated in relation to an exhibition of works relating to her latest publication.
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.
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, an emerging writer from Queensland contacted Arts Law for advice on how she can protect her copyright in her writing.
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.
“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, 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, 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.
Ken Martin, a sculptor based in South Australia, came to Arts Law looking for advice on including moulds of his sculptures in his will.
Lara Travis is a singer/songwriter and recently composed a song about domestic violence called Dead Girls Don’t Lie. Lara wasn’t sure if she was allowed to use the audio grabs and photographs that she had downloaded from news media so she approached Arts Law for assistance.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Writer Nathan Curnow approached Arts Law for legal advice on his screenplay "Dizney on Dry Ice". The screenplay was based on a play Nathan produced for the Melbourne Comedy Festival in May 2006.
What happens when you negotiate a deal with a company and then the person you spoke to leaves and their successor tries to back out or change the terms? Can you still hold the company to the agreement?
Ninuku Arts entered into a consignment agreement with an Adelaide gallery for the sale of 29 artworks by 19 of its artists. Ninuku Arts made many requests for payment for the 6 outstanding paintings, but no response was received. Artists in the Black turned to its long time supporters DLA Phillips Fox in Adelaide (now Fox Tucker Lawyers) for pro bono assistance.
Northern Editions (http://www.northerneditions.com.au/) is a print-making workshop located at the Charles Darwin University in Darwin. Since 1993, Northern Editions has been collaborating with artists to produce limited edition fine art prints and conducting printmaking workshops on campus and in remote communities with artists from across the Top End, Central Australia, the Kimberley and Queensland.
P.D. Casely-Hayford is an experimental filmmaker, visual sound and performance artist. One of her most recent experimental films Confidential Despatch was officially selected for the 2014 International Black Women's Film Festival in San Francisco, U.S.A. She is currently completing a PhD that focuses on experimental film, moving image, visual culture and legacy at Queensland University of Technology's Creative Industries Faculty.
Most visual artists work towards an exhibition at a gallery which takes their work on consignment and tries to sell it on behalf of the artist. The work remains the property of the artist until it’s sold when the gallery takes its commission and pays the rest to the artist. This can work well unless the gallery encounters financial difficulties and goes bankrupt before the artist has been paid.
Through its document review service, Arts Law assisted sculptor Peter Corlett in relation to his agreement with Variety Children’s Charity.
An artist recently registered sound recordings with the PPCA. The PPCA provided him with the input agreement and directed him to Arts Law for advice on direct licensing guidelines and the input agreement.
In April 2017, Arts Law presented a series of educational workshops in Queensland. A local photographer attended one of these workshops and was soon after prompted to contact Arts Law.
A young up and coming photographer called Arts Law for advice about starting a website to sell her photographs online.
Pormpuraaw Arts and Culture Centre is an Indigenous arts centre in far-north Queensland. They needed to resolve an issue where some of their artworks were damaged in transit after an exhibition.
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".
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 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.
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 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 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 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 (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.
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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 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 (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.
Arts Law was able to assist sculptor Victor Cusack in his dispute with Hornsby City Council (HCC) and Westfield.
Multicultural Arts Victoria Inc (MAV) approached Arts Law for legal assistance with an aimed at promoting and developing emerging African communities and their cultures in Victoria.
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.
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. The Dharug and Gundungurra Aboriginal people of the Blue Mountains area were upset by the unauthorized and disrespectful appropriation of important cultural imagery.
Artists in the Black (AITB) provided legal advice to Wangka Maya, an Aboriginal language organisation in regional Western Australia.
Well Placed Cactus specialises in the development of interactive games and apps that include serious cognitive testing games and gamified motion-sensing experiences. Well Placed Cactus approached Arts Law because they wanted to amend their standard contracts to better control the intellectual property they retained in their work, especially in the computer code.
In June 2011, Arts Law was approached by Grant Saunders aka Sonic Nomad of Sydney band Whitehouse http://whitehous.bandzoogle.com/fr_home.cfm.
Formed in 2006 and boasting an Aboriginal frontline and a Sri-Lankan rhythm section, the band won the Indigenous Emerging Artists grant in 2010 and its self-funded debut album is due for release in late 2011.
In mid 2010, Arts Law was contacted by an author who written an autobiographical book about her experience as a victim of domestic abuse. She contacted Arts Law to obtain legal advice outlining the risks of breaching defamation laws due to her use of real life people and events in the book.
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 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.