Copyright disputes about intellectual property and licence agreements are a permanent fixture in the art industry. These disputes can be complex, given the tendency for stakeholders to have inconsistent interests and the mix of statutory and contractual rights and obligations.
Copyright disputes in the art industry
Copyright disputes arise where an artist, or a collecting society on an artist’s behalf, alleges that a third party has infringed the copyright that the artist holds on an original work. These battles can be bitter.
Usually, the first stage of a copyright dispute will involve a letter of demand being sent from the artist or collecting society to the infringing party. A well-drafted letter of demand should do each of the following things:
- Identify the artist as the holder of copyright in a specified original work.
- Briefly outline any relevant rights enjoyed by the copyright holder.
- Explain how the infringing party has breached copyright in detail, attaching all relevant evidence.
- Demand that the infringing party immediately cease infringing copyright in the specified work.
- Demand that the infringing party sign a written undertaking that it will not infringe copyright in the specified work in the future.
It can sometimes be appropriate for a copyright holder to demand compensation from the infringing party.
Licence agreements are contracts between artists and other entities which the artist allows to use an original work for specified circumstances. Disputes can arise when an artist alleges that the other entity has used the original work in a way which breaches the agreement or falls outside its scope.
Drafting clear licence agreements leaves the parties in little doubt as to the circumstances in which the original work can be used.
How can JFMLAW help?
We can assist artists, art galleries, art dealers and art auction houses with:
- Advising them on their obligations, rights and entitlements under contracts, legislation such as theCopyright Act 1968, and at common law.
- Developing strategies to resolve disputes concerning the use and commercial exploitation of artworks.
- Commencing and defending court proceedings.
Give JFMLAW a call now to discuss how we can help you.