Wednesday, September 07, 2011

URGENT - UK Artists - Fight For Your Moral Rights

Please read the following page:

UK Artists - Fight For Your Moral Rights

You have until close of business today (7th September 2011) to send your submission to be viewed by the committee.

Here's what I sent:


  • Artists should have the right to profit from their own work
  • Artists should have the moral right to their work
  • Copyright should automatically be assigned to the artist
  • Due diligence should be a matter of course for orphan works
  • Art should be protected in the same way and manner as music and writing
  • Instead of curtailing artist's right to their own work, education about copyright and copyright infringements should take place
  • The government should not bow to the pressure of Google or other interested parties that want to steal artists right to their own work.
  • The UK should assimilate its copyright and intellectual property laws with the rest of the EU
  • Considering that the internet is already facilitating a 'take what you want' attitude the government surely should not support and sanction this attitude
  • Loss of revenue due to the fact that artist are not 'allowed' to profit from their own work.

Detailed argument

According to the following laws:
1 Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2 Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Note also that a recent UK court ruling (20thC Fox vs 'Newsbin2') established that -
piracy of copyright work is a breach of the copyright holder's human rights;
the copyright holder is therefore entitled to legal redress;
and, because 'so far as possible, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with human rights', legislation drafted and enacted subsequent to the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 must also be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with human rights.
the attempt to relieve artists of their rights is unlawful and unjust. The moral right of an artist to his/her own work should be unwaivable and copyright automatic as it is in current UK copyright law, EU and UN law.

For any artist who tries to make a living from his/her art, this new law would make it impossible to make a living as it does not take into consideration the needs of the artist as a business. From web portfolios to personal websites, blogs, print on demand art sites etc to licensing and commissioned work, the artist cannot rely on word of mouth alone but has to make use of the internet to promote his/her work. However, inherent in this kind of promotion is the danger of art being stolen and/or plagiarised. This doesn't just take place with the odd person lifting an image for a party invitation, but includes big businesses taking advantage of artists, point in case, Paper Chase. The details of this can be read here

Most artists cannot afford big corporate lawyers to deal with such infringements and are therefore relying on the law to be clear and just so these cases can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

For artists who license their work additional issues become a problem. For example, if an artist issues an 'exclusive license' this means that the art cannot be used for anything or anywhere else. If the art is used, e.g. because it is stolen, the artist is in breach of contract and can be sued for damages through no fault of his/her own.

Visual artists are separated from performance/music artists and writers and copyright seems to apply to one but not the other. Detailed information about automatic copyright for music artists (creators of literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound recordings, broadcasts, films and typographical arrangement of published editions ) here
These rights include the artist however, the new law would separate artists from other creators don't and not be applicable to artists in the same way as copyright laws are for musicians and writers. Copyright should not be a matter of lobby but a matter of just laws.

There is no due diligence or 'evidence' expected for anyone wanting to use 'orphan works' commercially. On the internet images can be copied and pasted and then copied and pasted again, cropped, the colour changed, etc until the original source of the image gets lost in translation, which will make it difficult although not impossible to find the creator of any works. However, unless there is logged evidence of a company actually looking for the originator and looking hard, it will mean that any image can be used by anyone claiming they 'thought' it was an orphan work. This is unacceptable for art as a business.

In cases of copyright infringement the law should be clear and just and allow for damages to the artist's business. Currently there is no need to register your copyright as it is automatically granted, although there are companies offering a free registration that logs the time and date of the copyright. See, for example,,, however, requiring artists to pay for the registration of their work is only viable for those artists who already have a profitable business, for start up artists this would be an impossible expenditure. In which case, with the new law these artists would have no protection against copyright infringements.

Instead of loosening up the IP laws and allowing big companies to profit from artists' work, the law should tighten up the law and make it easier for artists to enforce their copyright and hold on to their moral rights.

The new law would be the equivalent of someone going to a supermarket, taking what they want and leaving the store without paying. When reprimanded the customer could say, but you didn't register your right for me to pay. Theft is theft and stealing someone's art is just as wrong as taking anything else that doesn't belong to you.

There is far too little information about copyright and copyright infringement being made public or taught at school. Pupils are encouraged to copy/print art and photography from the internet and use in their school work. There are more cases than I care to remember where art is stolen from the net and then used to make a profit.

Feel free to use the information I've provided in your letter.

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