1. What is an artistic work – does it include photographs and sculptures?
An artistic work is defined by the NZ Copyright Act as a graphic work which include paintings, drawings, diagrams, engravings, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, prints etc, as well as photographs, sculptures and collages which are sufficiently original to extent that they do not copy or infringe the copyright in another work.
2. What is copyright, and what is a copyright protected work?
Copyright is a property right that exists in original artistic works. Copyright grants the owner of the copyright, which is generally the creator or artist who makes the artistic work, certain exclusive rights for the duration of the copyright. For artistic works, the duration of copyright is the life of the artist plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year that they die. The rights that are granted to the copyright owner with respect to artistic works are the exclusive right to copy the work, issue copies of the work to the public (whether for sale or not) to broadcast the work or to authorise anyone else to do any of these restricted acts.
3. How do I know if an artwork is copyright protected?
There is no requirement to register copyright ownership, so there is an assumption that if the work is original and created within the last 50 years then it is most likely copyright protected. If the artist who created the artistic work died less than 50 years ago then the work is also most likely copyright protected. If the artist who created the work died more than 50 years ago then the artwork is most likely in the “public domain”, meaning it is no longer copyright protected.
4. Who owns the copyright in an artistic work?
Generally the person who is the author (artist) of the artistic work is the first owner of the copyright in the work. There are three possible exceptions to the artist retaining ownership of the copyright in the work:
a. if the artistic work was made during the course of employment, in which case the employer may be the owner of the copyright;
b. if the artwork was “commissioned” and paid for, and there is no written contract confirming that artist is to retain copyright, then the commissioner may be the copyright owner;
c. if the artist has sold or transferred (assigned) the copyright. This is separate to selling the actual artistic work, as copyright exists independently and separately from the actual work, and generally the artist will retain ownership of the copyright in the work after they have sold the work. If the artist is to assign or sell the copyright in the work, this will need to have been done in writing.
5. If it’s on the internet, can anyone use it?
Copyright is not ‘waived’ when you publish text or images on the internet. You can decide how you would like people to use your online content, including making it available for copying – either with attribution or not (ie Creative Commons licenses).
6. Do I don’t need permission if I copy less than 10%?
Using even a very small part of someone else’s work can require permission if that part is an important or integral part and was the result of skill and time.
7. Can I use other people’s content if I credit them?
Not necessarily. While you have a legal obligation to credit the creator when you use their work, unless they have agreed not to be credited or in limited other circumstances, however, including a credit does not preclude the need to obtain permission.
8. Can I can use other people’s content without permission if I don’t make money out of it?
You usually need permission even if your use is non-commercial. The content creator may set different terms for non-commercial use (e.g. a different fee) but you still need to ask.
9. Is getting permission difficult?
It needn’t be, and hopefully Artistic Licence makes the process even easier.