[-empyre-] COPYRIGHT Demistified ( PART 2)
COPYRIGHT Demistified ( PART 2)
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.
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
- 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
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 Media | Arts
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