Copyright Agency and Collecting Societies for Artists

Sharon Givoni Consulting Arts and design, Copyright, Design Law
Credit: Sharon Givoni

Imagine this scenario.

Anne, renowned for her captivating two-tone fruit and flower artworks, recently found herself facing a disheartening challenge. Her unique style, characterised by its striking use of light blue tones to create a serene yet vivid depiction of nature, had become her signature. However, she discovered a major fashion outlet had released a clothing line featuring designs that were unmistakably similar to her artwork.

The only difference was a subtle shift in colour palette — where Anne’s original pieces featured her signature light blue, the “copycat” designs in question used a dark blue. Despite this minor alteration, the essence and composition of the artwork remained so closely mirrored that Anne immediately recognised it as her own.

This situation brings to light the complex nature of copyright infringement in the arts.

Anne’s case demonstrates that even slight alterations, such as a change in colour, do not negate the fact that the core design and artistic expression of the artwork have been copied. While the Copyright Agency provides invaluable support for artists in managing copyrights and collecting due royalties, Anne’s predicament exemplifies a scenario where legal intervention becomes necessary.

In instances where an artist’s work is copied in a manner that closely resembles the original, with only minimal alterations, the expertise and support of a law firm specialising in intellectual property rights are crucial.

Such firms are adept at navigating the intricacies of copyright law, offering personalised legal advice, and taking decisive action to protect the artist’s rights. Legal professionals can assist in evaluating the extent of infringement, engaging in negotiations for settlement, or pursuing legal action to ensure the artist receives rightful compensation and recognition for their work.

Anne’s situation highlights the importance of artists safeguarding their creative outputs. While the Copyright Agency plays a critical role in the broader protection and management of copyright for artists, direct infringements—where artwork is copied with only superficial changes—demand the robust legal strategies and advocacy that only a dedicated law firm can provide. Together, the protective measures offered by copyright management agencies and the specialized legal expertise of intellectual property law firms form a comprehensive defence for artists’ rights, ensuring their creative legacy is preserved and respected.

For surface designers like Ava, the Copyright Agency provides a robust framework to protect their creative works and ensure they receive fair compensation. Membership in the agency equips designers with a partner to help navigate the complexities of copyright law, licensing, and royalty collection, safeguarding their designs as valuable assets for their benefit and legacy.

However, it’s important to note that the Copyright Agency, while invaluable in managing copyright and facilitating royalty payments, does not offer legal representation. There are instances where a design’s copyright might be infringed upon in ways that are nuanced and complex, such as when a work is copied or imitated too closely. In these situations, the intricacies of proving infringement and pursuing legal action or settlement require the expertise and advocacy that only a law firm can provide.

Seeking the assistance of a law firm specialised in intellectual property rights becomes the most effective avenue for addressing direct copyright infringements. Law firms offer a range of legal services that include but are not limited to evaluating the extent of copyright infringement, sending cease and desist letters, negotiating settlements, and representing clients in court proceedings if necessary. They are equipped to provide tailored legal advice, ensuring that your rights are vigorously defended and that you receive the appropriate remedies and compensation for any infringement of your work.

In essence, while the Copyright Agency plays a crucial role in the broader management of copyright and royalties for your designs.

Engaging a law firm is good to do when facing copyright infringement issues even if the copy is not actually identical – remember it is enough to take a substantial part of work for a copyright breach to arise (see: The Fine Line between Copyright Infringement or Artistic Creativity – Sharon Givoni Consulting).

This approach ensures that you have comprehensive protection and support for your intellectual property, combining the agency’s resources with the legal expertise and advocacy capabilities of a specialised law firm. Together, they form part of the ecosystem of protection for your creative legacy.

Please note the above article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice.

Please email us if you need legal advice about your brand or another legal matter in this area generally.