[-empyre-] COPYRIGHT Demistified ( PART 1)

Hello everyone on the * empyre * list,

Before I go ahead with my contribution, I wanted  to 
say that the discussions have been most 
informative! -
thank you all for the time and input and especially  
Melinda for igniting the empyre engine. It's been 
great meeting you on-line.


I intend to talk about (c) for artists working in the 
field of new media and netart, followed by a 
practical workshop on basic licensing procedures.
I look forward to reading your comments on, 
frustrations with, disregard of....copyright and 
related issues.
Why 'for', and why 'against'? 

Although I am not a lawyer, I have dealt with 
copyright issues in my work as an independent 
artist, as a producer of new media projects and, 
most recently, as a Rights Officer at VISCOPY - 
www.viscopy.com - where some of my work was to 
provide and manage copyright administrative and 
finical advice and services. In Australia, ( and with 
my (c) hat on)  have worked with most National 
Museums and Galleries, universities, most major 
newspaper publishers and TV stations, as well as 
independent producers and curators who have 
requested licenses for the use of artistic work. 
I have also dealt with international copyright 
agencies and have been engaged in the 
administration, research and distribution of 
royalties for over 80,000 Australian and 
International artists.

You may already know this, so please skip th 
eintro and save your self some e-mail time. :)


Copyright protects an original work or a creative 
project from commercial exploitation. It covers any 
artistic form | project - the graphics, typography or 
images on a website, the code that was used to 
develop an artistic work, sound composition, 
architectural drawings and plans, the photograph 
of a performance or installation project, the video 
recording of the performance, any text, a video 
piece, a hologram.

The duration of copyright in Australia is the author's 
life plus 50 years. In the case of photography the 
duration is 50 years from the date of publication. If 
your work is published outside Australia the 
duration may be different depending on the territory 
where your work has been used. It is the artist, in 
one?s lifetime, and the artist's family/ partners/ trust 
in the case of artists' estates that can benefit 
economically from copyright.

* Moral right *

Protects the integrity of your work. Even if you are 
not paid for the copying of your work you are still 
entitled for the work to be reproduced correctly 
without alterations and you need to be credited.

However, you need to note that ideas expressed in 
a work are excluded from copyright protection. If an 
artist produces a new work that deals with the 
same ideas but the subsequent works (images, 
text, sound composition, video) are very different 
from works produced by another person, then the 
artist is free to publish the new creation.
Ideas are cheep, process is costly... and the 
outcome could be either an infringement or an 
economic reward.

Other forms of intellectual property include:

Protect inventions of new products, processes 
and, in more resent years, even new 
microorganisms. The right protects from the 
manufacturing or commercial exploitation of the 
inventions unless used under licence from the 
patent holder. Duration is 20 years from filing 
complete application. 

Just as an example in explaining the difference 
between patents and copyright. Copyright is 
automatic. All you need to prove it is your original 
work, though it is still not an innovation. The 
registration of a patent is a costly and lengthy legal 
process that can take anywhere between 12 and 
21 months for an application to be considered and 
registered. The fee can be up to $ 3,000 for a 
registration in Australia and if you wish to register 
the invention say in all countries in Europe this will 
cost up to 16,000.

*Registered Design*
It protects the design or the appearance of a 
product. The same applies for artistic works or 
collaborative projects with design components. 

*Trade Marks*
This is your stamp or mark of origin. It is used 
against infringers and damages, if such have been 

*Trade Practices Act*
It protects the visible product attributes. If you wish 
to develop a CD ROM, a game or a website for 
whatever purpose and another individual or a 
company sales deceptively similar products this 
may lead to prosecution.  It is a right to damages 
for losses caused by such deception. As with 
trademarks the duration is perpetual.


What artists need to become familiar with are the 
areas of copyright relating to their particular 
medium and process. Each time an artwork is 
used, a licence needs to be issued and, should it 
be relevant, a fee collected for the use of that work.

There are two (c) rights categories - 

Primary Rights
Secondary Rights. 

Primary Rights 
covers any instances when the original work - an 
image, a still from a VRML world, a web page, a 
sound piece, a transparency | video tape 
documenting an installation or a performance is 
being copied. The means of reproduction could be 
in print, electronic or cable, TV, radio - 
retransmission medium. No matter what the 
means of copying might be, it is your right to collect 
royalties, yes make money! from the use of your 

Secondary Rights 
relate to instances when the copy of your original 
work is copied (second stage copying) and used. 
This is mostly the case with education institutions, 
which, for example, may photocopy or make 
transparencies of works already printed in 
The same goes for work that has been screened 
on television - your original work may have 
appeared in a TV programme - and an 
educational/ or any other institution may have 
taped it off-air and used the video for educational 

You are entitled to collect royalties
( or to put it bluntly money) 
for both the primary and secondary use of your 
And if the work is licensed under a non exclusive 
agreement, them you may find yourselves 
collecting fees from a number of clients, 
institutions or users for the copying of only one 
original work. 

Think about it, if you knew more about copyright 
and its use, you will find that you may earn more 
income from copyright then the actual sell of your 
And if someone infringes on your work, you can 
collect fees for damages, too!

More on this and other matters in the next posting.

NOVA best,



NOVA Media | Arts
61 3 9650 0489


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