Viscopy’s Legal Advisor, Virginia Morrison, discusses Australian developments for the introduction of a resale royalty for visual artists.
Arts Law has advocated for the rights of artists in prison in the context of their advocacy work on copyright and moral rights. Arts Law has supported artists who are prisoners to assert their copyright and moral works for art work produced during their incarceration. Arts Law has also lobbied for the reform of Western Australian State laws which require some prisoners to forfeit their rights to their copyright and artwork. Arts Law operates education workshops for prisoners and campaigns for the rights of prisoners to sell artworks created in prison and for fair compensation where artworks are exhibited or reproduced by prison authorities.
Arts Law advocates on behalf of arts organisations that support emerging and developing artists, the majority being not-for-profit organisations (NFPs). Arts Law recognises that NFPs occupy a vital place in Australia’s creative landscape and that their interests must be protected alongside public confidence in their activities. Arts Law advocates for clearer and more supportive regulatory frameworks for NFPs to ensure their development and accountability. Arts Law also lobbies the Australian Government for stronger and more efficient funding support and processes for NFPs.
Arts Law is a strong advocate for freedom of artistic and cultural expression and for legal reforms that create modern and functional safeguards protecting the right to such expression. Arts Law has made numerous submissions in response to reviews of the laws relating to artistic censorship and classification laws. Arts Law recognises the need to guard against strict censorship and classification laws which are unnecessarily restrictive and prevent freedom of artistic expression. On the other hand, Arts Law understands that freedom of expression must be balanced by appropriate safeguards for the protection of children and Indigenous culture and the constraints relating to defamation, copyright, trade practices and other laws. Arts Law advocates for a positive right to artistic expression subject to limits which are just and proportional, and which do not unfairly impede on the creation of legitimate art works. Arts Law takes the position that current debates on a proposed tort for the invasion of privacy, strict classification laws and strict regulation of digital technology must consider the possible disadvantages for freedom of artistic expression.
Collecting Societies are bodies which have authority to licence copyrighted works and collect royalties on behalf of artists who are the copyright owners. Arts Law advocates for improved transparency and efficiency in the operation of collecting societies and supports proposals by the European Commission to this effect. Arts Law supports strengthened reporting obligations and enhanced control by right holders over the activities of collecting societies. Arts Law has long been engaged in lobbying for increased transparency concerning the fees charged by collecting societies.
Arts Law advocates for the adoption of best practice standards in contractual dealings between artists and third parties in the context of sale of art works, public commissions, contracts for services, competitions, festivals and other situations where a legal agreement must be signed. In particular, Arts Law advocates for retention of control over copyright by the creator, transparency of terms, and contractual protection and respect for moral rights and Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property. Arts Law encourages those dealing with artists to observe best practice and applicable protocols in their contracts. See Arts Law’s Best Practice Document Review Service for parties dealing with artists.
Arts Law advocates for a fair and effective copyright system that prevents unauthorised misappropriation of copyrighted work and ensures that artists receive credit and remuneration for their creative output. Arts Law is particularly active in promoting greater adherence to copyright laws where Indigenous art works are involved as Indigenous artists have traditionally proved more vulnerable to unethical practices and exploitation. Arts Law recognises that it is in the public interest to allow some exceptions to copyright and has lobbied for a fair balance, such as in respect of changes proposed to the fair dealing exceptions. Arts Law also advocates for the increased recognition of artists’ moral rights, including the right to be named as the creator and the right against the derogatory treatment of artistic and creative works.
As a member of the ArtsPeak lobby group of peak arts organisations, Arts Law has been an active contributor to the national discussion on developing a new National Cultural Policy for Australia. Arts Law has also made many individual submissions to Members of Parliament on issues pertaining to cultural policy. These have included increased support for peak service organisations in the arts sector, better protection of Indigenous cultural and intellectual property and better copyright protection in an evolving digital environment. Arts Law also supports submissions on cultural policy by the Australian Coalition for Cultural Diversity and Arts Access Australia.