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Library and Archives Contract

Since October 2007, CARFAC-RAAV have been involved in a productive ongoing discussion with representatives from the Copyright branch of Library and Archives Canada (LAC), concerning a new standard licence for visual artists. You will remember that in the fall of 2007, we publicly recommended that artists not sign the old contract because we strongly felt that it contained unreasonable requests regarding the use of artists’ copyrights, and that they had few options to negotiate its terms. In particular, we objected to the fact that artists were asked to make their work publicly available without financial compensation, and that there was significant potential that their moral rights could be mistreated.

Following our public release, LAC communicated that they were willing to create a contract that is more respectful of the artists they work with, and demonstrated a desire to collaborate with CARFAC-RAAV and CARCC to draft a new contract to ensure that fair practice is upheld. We are pleased to report that this effort has been successful, and that a new contract has been prepared.

First we would like to underline the fact that the new contract is much improved over the previous version, and we commend LAC for working with us to prepare a contract that allows copyright holders to decide upon what terms their works should be used by LAC. It is clear from the new language in this contract that it is negotiable and flexible for the artist, and that the artist’s right to choose is respected at every step. For example, the artist can cross out all the uses he or she is not permitting LAC to use an image for. The artist can also establish the duration of the licence and whether financial compensation is requested or not. Moreover, the information letter of introduction accompanying the licence has been expanded and modified in order to better explain the nature and conditions of the request made by LAC to use copyrighted material.

There is one article in particular that we had questions about, and which the artist has the right to authorize or not. This is regarding the use of an image by educational institutions. The dissemination of content for educational purposes is part of LAC’s mandate, and as such, teachers and students frequently use their online materials for the purposes of study and research. The new licence requests permission from the artist to allow educational institutions to use an electronic image of an artwork, which they may post on the institution’s website, reproduce, present, or publish for educational uses. It is LAC’s practice to make low resolution images available for this purpose. The licence allows for non-commercial uses only, and if someone asks to reproduce it for commercial or advertising purposes, the copyright owner must be consulted and permission must be obtained apart from this licence. Under this article, the artist is given the choice to give authorization or to deny it, and we recommend that artists carefully consider the full implications of giving such permission. CARFAC-RAAV also welcome artists who have questions about any contractual agreement to consult with us about what their options are.

All in all, this new contract is a drastic change from the initial one and we are glad that the action we took brought about a change in LAC’s approach regarding visual artists’ rights. Following this conclusive experience, CARFAC-RAAV look forward to collaborating with LAC in the future.

If would like more information feel free to send us an email or give us a call at 1-866-233-6161.