Lawyers have had a relationship with the arts dating back centuries. In this new technological age, what are the finer points of art and law in the 21C? Social media and the internet pose new challenges for artists in defence of their copyright and artist attribution. The posting of images on Instagram, Facebook and the like, presents legal questions for all parties involved. The social media site you sign up with will, usually, have listed in its terms of service the dos and don’ts that subscribers to the service are supposed to abide by. Who reads these detailed legalese passages? Not many people I know. Where does that leave us?

Moral Rights Provision

It means that you will in all probability bear responsibility for your actions in posting images via that social media channel. Best practice is to always include an attribution for the artist or creator of the image that you are posting online. Bottom line is that if you use this, especially for commercial purposes, you can be liable to prosecution for failing to honour the copyright through licencing the image. There are and have been a string of successful prosecutions, especially after the introduction of the moral rights provision in the Copyright Act in 2000.

Legal Avenues for Redress Exist

There are lawyers around Australia who regularly defend the rights of artists and seek compensation on their behalf for any commercial transgressions. Click here for more to examine an Adelaide based legal firm who have experience in this field of law. Artists can be compensated for the illegal use of their work and transgressions against their copyright. DJs have been prosecuted for illegally sampling work of other artists without attribution. Publishing companies like Allen & Unwin and ACP Publishing have been sued for the infringement of moral rights under the Copyright Act.

Always Attribute the Images Used to Their Creator

In the social media space images Tweeted by a photographer and then re-Tweeted and licenced for profit by Getty Images and AFP were successfully prosecuted under US law. The little guy or gal need not be crushed by the corporate giants, as shown by these examples. The law and the arts are not immune to each other and can come together in the spirit of doing the right thing. Artists can pursue claims of copyright infringement or failure to attribute online. Remember to always attribute any image you use online, regardless of whether it is for a commercial purpose or not – it is a good habit to get into.