First copyright payments ready for New Zealand Artists

In a first for Aotearoa New Zealand, a group of visual artists is set to receive payment for the commercial reproduction of their work in auction house promotional material. The payments relate to a recent auction by Art+Object and will be made through Copyright Licensing New Zealand’s (CLNZ) auction house licensing scheme.

The licensing scheme, run by collective management organisation and not-for-profit CLNZ, enables artists to be remunerated when their work is reproduced to promote its sale on the secondary market – in accordance with New Zealand and international copyright law.

CLNZ Chief Executive Paula Browning explains, “the distinction between an artist’s work and their creative rights are often misunderstood. When an artist sells their work, they’re selling the physical object, and their copyright remains with them. When an image of the work is used to promote future sales, the artist is entitled to ask for a fee for that use”.

The distinction between an artist’s work and their creative rights are often misunderstood.

Paula Browning, CLNZ Chief Executive

In December 2021, Art+Object became the first auction house to sign up to the CLNZ scheme. It was another significant moment for artists and the local art market – the move to license demonstrated Art+Object’s leadership, and respect for artists’ rights. You can read more about this announcement here.

Art+Object’s first payment to CLNZ under the scheme, for works reproduced to promote its recent auction, will be on-paid to artists who are signed up with CLNZ and whose works were included in the auction. It’s a small start, but an important one.

Leigh Melville, Director at Art+Object, is proud to be partnering with CLNZ to pay artists when their work is reproduced by her auction house. She says, “it’s important to us that we do the right thing and acknowledge artists’ copyright”.

It’s important to us that we do the right thing and acknowledge artists’ copyright.

Leigh Melville, Director at Art+Object

While this is a strong first step, there’s still more to be done in the wider market. To date, Art+Object is the only auction house to take up the licence.

Art Licensing Consultant, Caroline Stone, is frustrated by the slow uptake from other New Zealand auction houses. “Auction houses benefit from using artists’ copyright protected works,” she says. “It’s time to recognise this and ensure artists are paid when their work is used commercially. I highly recommend auction houses licence with CLNZ. It’s an easy way to recognise and pay artists. Most auction houses reproduce artwork as part of business-as-usual marketing. With a licence you can still do this – and do the right thing.”

Paula Browning is also urging artists to sign up with CLNZ so they can be paid. “Artists need to register and sign our rights agreement to benefit from the scheme,” she says. “It’s free to join, and artists retain their full copyright. Signing the agreement is important because it authorises CLNZ to collect money on your behalf. It means we can pay you, when your art work is used.”

Are you an artist? There is no cost to sign-up with CLNZ and you maintain 100% ownership of the copyright in your work. Join the many other New Zealand artists that have already registered and hear more about new licensing services as they are developed. Read more here.

Information about the CLNZ auction house licensing scheme is available here.

Photo by Yuri Bodrikhin on Unsplash

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