[-empyre-] COPYRIGHT Demistified ( PART 2)

COPYRIGHT Demistified ( PART 2)

Hi everyone,

In one of the earlier postings there was a 
discussion on the ?datedness? of new media 
projects and the fact that an artist may produce up 
to 300 - 500 different  pieces within a few years 
only to find out that the technology has evolved so 
fast that the work has become aesthetically  ( 
technically) dated. What do we do? And what do we 
do when we can earn an income fromour projects, 
because of this and other significant to the field 

There are a number of important copyright issues 
that new media artists must become aware of in 
order to protect their work and ...their livelihood ? 

Before we go into the discussion,
I thought it will be helpful to introduce a qucik  
overview on copyright procedures.  


Each time an art work is published in either print or 
electronic form, or has been transmitted via TV, 
cable, radio or the internet, the artist or the artist ' 
estate / agent needs to issue a licence for the use 
of that particular work. 

Most often this is a non-exclusive licence for the 
use of the work for a specific purpose. Different 
rates apply for the commercial and 
non-commercial use of the work.
A non-exclusive licence allows the author to 
publish one art work in different media and be 
used for multiple purposes. 

*For example*

A net.artist has created a digital animation - 
comprising of moving images, sound, code and 
text - published on the web. 

A cultural institution has exhibited the work as part 
of a show and wishes to publish it on their 
website. At the same time a radio station is 
producing a special programme on net.art and the 
animation's sound component is featured in the 
show. The artist also gets a review in the local 
newspaper - a still image and some text from the 
animation is used to illustrate the review article. 
While this is happening locally, this same project 
is exhibited overseas as part of a festival and a 
feature article is published in a magazine 
illustrated with a still from the animation. Following 
the success of the festival, an overseas institution 
approaches the artist with a proposal to use the 
animation for educational purposes.

All of this may sound complicated when written 
down, but I am sure artists who are actively 
engaged in cultural production have already been 
through a similar scenario.  
But how many would have collected royalties for 
the use of their work?!

In the given example, depending on the 
agreements in place, the artist should be 
collecting :

- royalties for the use of stills published on the 
website (non-commercial use)
- royalties for the sound (non-commercial use)
- credit for the work published in the newspaper - 
in this case, because the work was used for review 
and criticism under the Fair Dealing Act, the fees 
are waived. (non-commercial use)
- royalties from the overseas publisher, collected 
through an overseas copyright agency and 
distributed by an agent in the home country, with 
which there are reciprocal agreements. 
In this instance the artist is entitled to collect 
royalties as the work is published in a feature 
article ie not a review. (commercial use)
- royalties for the written code (non-commercial 
However, if the code was written either by two 
people or by somebody else, the author(s)  need to 
share the income, most often by collecting 50% or 
whatever their fair share might be.

If a gallery wishes to publish your projects on their 
website, under the Copy Right Act and with the 
introduction of the Digital Agenda Bill, it is their 
obligation to pay the artist royalties for the use of 
their work. 

If your work is part of a gallery collection, the 
respective institution needs to pay you royalties for 
the use of the work when published on the internet. 

Because not many admnistrators are familiar in 
detail with the Copyright Act, it is often the case that 
not paying artists their entitlements is argued with 
the line that " it is in the artist interest, because the 
work gets promoted". 

Remember, an arts organisation is not set up to 
be doing artists favours. Their job, as a cultural 
institution, is to develop cultural and artistic 
content, develop audiences and contribute to the 
evolution of culture. Without artists there will be no 
need for art organisations. Your relationship with 
any cultural institution or arts organisation must 
remain purely professional. 

The more artists become aware of the use of their 
rights and the more we become demanding or the 
entitlements the easier the process will become. It 
is in the interest of the arts community for artists to 
become familiar with these issues and to create a 
critical mass that educates institutions, demands 
for professional treatment and minimises the 
culture of slave economy. 

Do not sign away or waive your rights, you will be 
letting somebody else profit from the use of your 
work! Ask an experienced peer, an agent or an Arts 
Law Centre to help you.

More on this and other matters in the next posting.

NOVA best



NOVA Media | Arts
61 3 9650 0849


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