Case Studies

Australian Cartoonists’ Association: Cartoonists’ Rights

Peter Broelman is an editorial cartoonist, caricaturist and illustrator. He is a former president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association and currently holds the position of secretary for the association.

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. The AAP is Australia’s national independent news agency.

On behalf of the ACA, Peter approached the Arts Law Centre for advice concerning the operation of the proposed Freelance Caricature/Cartoonist Contributors Agreement. In particular, Peter wanted to find out how the agreement affected the legal rights of its member cartoonists in relation to use of their work. He was concerned about the moral rights of the cartoonists and wanted to ensure there was adequate protection of their intellectual property rights.

Peter was advised by one of the Centre’s pro bono lawyers, Stephen Iu, who is a Senior Associate at Henry Davis York. Stephen has special expertise in corporate and commercial transactions across a range of sectors including the media sector.

Using the Centre’s telephone advice service, Stephen provided Peter with points of advice concerning the effect of individual provisions in the agreement. Stephen pointed out that there were several provisions that were unclear and which disadvantaged the rights of member cartoonists.

Stephen recommended a number of amendments to the proposed contract between the AAP and ACA. For example, he advised that the agreement should be amended to expressly assert the cartoonists’ moral rights and to give members some control over which publications their work could be used in. Stephen also advised Peter that the agreement should be amended to contain an express obligation on the AAP to pay for use of members’ work.

With Stephen’s advice, Peter was able to return to negotiations with the AAP with a much clearer understanding of the effect of the contract on member cartoonists’ rights, and what needed to be changed in the agreement in order to better protect their moral and intellectual property rights.

More information about contracts and artists’ moral and intellectual property rights can be found in the following information sheets available for free on the Arts Law website: