Case Studies

Photographer: Copyright in reproductions and adaptations

Photograph by Christopher Flynnn via unsplash

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.

At the time of the workshop, the photographer was in the early stages of negotiating with the gallery about displaying her photos in an upcoming exhibition at a local gallery.  

As well as exhibiting her photos, the gallery intended on selling postcards of the artist’s photos at its shop. The photographer contacted Arts Law because she was concerned about her rights in the photos as images on postcards sold by the shop.

The photographer wanted to know what to look out for when selling postcards through the gallery. The photographer was also worried members of the public or gallery staff would reproduce her photographs without her permission. Arts Law lawyer Rebecca Simpson gave advice in relation to:

  • Copyright and moral rights. We explained the rights the owner of a copyright had for example in reproductions of the works; and an author’s rights to be credited for their work;
  • The terms and conditions of any agreement with the gallery regarding the postcards to ensure that there wasn’t any reference to assignment of her copyright; and 
  • Strategies that the photographer could put in place in order to reduce the risk of members of the public or gallery staff reproducing her photographs without permission.  

Arts Law always advises our artists that any agreement they make should be made in writing to ensure there is an accurate record of the terms by which the parties agree upon. Even if you get started with a simple email or hand written note signed, it can help. Arts Law can review your draft agreement and recommend any changes required through our document review service.

The photographer had already, as a result of Arts Law presentation at the workshop, drafted an agreement and started to negotiate with the gallery. We were thoroughly impressed! By doing this, she showed professionalism and that she takes her business seriously.