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Protect yourself and your community
NATIONAL, Issue 97, 2006: Incidences of bad practices and exploitation of Indigenous artists and art is being targeted by a Copyright Information Kit and community workshops, developed by Viscopy. Issues that Viscopy’s Indigenous Education Program is targeting include unscrupulous buyers visiting remote Indigenous communities and purchasing original artworks for very little money; and the importation of fake Indigenous artwork and artefacts into the tourism market. The Indigenous program will conduct workshops throughout Australia in 2006, explaining the services provided by Viscopy and how assistance can be provided to Indigenous artists and communities relating to the protection of their works from exploitation. Viscopy held extensive discussions with Indigenous communities in 2005 and the issues raised at the workshops reinforced concerns about exploitation and lack of protection or action by authorities to deal with the problems. Viscopy is working closely with Indigenous organisations and various commonwealth, state and territory agencies to ensure a code of conduct is developed to stamp out these practices. Indigenous artists and communities around Central Australia are being targeted by those who wish to profit from ‘carpetbagging’. Through consultations with Desart and the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Service this issue is being addressed to ensure Indigenous artists are not being exploited. In North Queensland local Indigenous artists are concerned with the importation of fake artwork into the tourism market and then passed off as authentic Indigenous art. Matters such as these are being reported to the relevant authorities such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for investigation. “We believe that most of these fakes are being purchased online and imported into the country,” Trevor James, Viscopy Indigenous Copyright Education Officer, said. “It is hoped that a joint strategy with other Indigenous arts organisations will lobby the Commonwealth Government to seek a ban on the importation of these fake works.” But while there are incidences of bad practices and exploitation of Indigenous art occurring, there is now information available to artists via Viscopy’s Copyright Information Kit and community workshops that let the artists know who to go when they encounter such problems. “We cannot provide legal advice but we are a first point of contact for many Indigenous artists who need assistance in regards to any copyright infringements or licensing matters. However if it becomes a matter
that requires legal assistance we can refer this to the relevant agencies that provide this specialist service,” Mr James said. Viscopy’s Indigenous program has also employed an extra staff member to provide assistance to Indigenous female artists. Joanne Brown, who currently works one day a week, has extensive experience working with Indigenous artists throughout Australia. Recently Joanne took part in the Desart AGM in Alice Springs, where a new membership agreement between regional arts centres and their artist members was presented and distributed. The agreement will enable artists represented by Desart Art Centres to receive copyright royalties when their works are reproduced by auction houses, government and educational institutions. In addition, Joanne recently assisted in the development of the Resale Royalty postcard campaign on behalf of Viscopy’s Indigenous artists members; this campaign was directed at the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock who is currently considering the introduction of a Resale Royalty Scheme for all Australian visual artists. If you would like further information or a copy of the Copyright Information Kit you can contact Viscopy on (02) 9368 0933 or email on email@example.com or visit the website www.viscopy.com.