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CARFAC disappointed artists’ voices are not being heard in copyright debate

Ottawa, Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 – The national association of visual artists (CARFAC) is disappointed the voices of artists are largely being ignored by politicians and the media in the ongoing debate about copyright reform. With the average income of a visual artists falling at $13,976, or $6,824 below the Statistics Canada low-income cut-off, copyright royalties are an important source of income that should be doing more for artists.

“Currently the debate is between users and corporate distributors,” said Mario Villeneuve, CARFAC President. “The average Canadian worker earns more than twice as much as the average artist but they see copyright as a four letter word. The power of distributors over artists is so unbalanced that galleries are often able to talk artists into signing their rights away. If we’re taking about reaching a balance, we need to be talking about artists.”

In particular, CARFAC would like to see a Resale Right added to the Copyright Act as has been done in 54 other countries. This would see artists receive a percentage royalty payment from the resale of their work. The Australian government recently decided to consider the Resale Right after the late Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri’s painting, Warlugulong, sold for $2.4 million in 2007, thirty years after the artist sold the work for a mere $1200. Once established in Canada, artists would be able to benefit from reciprocal arrangements with other countries where the Resale Right exists. Canada’s Aboriginal artists in particular are losing out on the profits being made on their work in the secondary market.

CARFAC would also like to see photographers and portrait artists given the same rights as other visual artists and would like the Exhibition and Reproduction Rights strengthened so that galleries who currently refuse to pay artists for the use of their work can be encouraged to obey the law.

Other recommendations CARFAC is making to the Copyright Consultation committee include:

1) Ratifying the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty (WCT), which includes allowances, where necessary, to protect both the rights of users and creators;
2) Reinforcing and expanding the licensing responsibilities of copyright collectives in the digital environment;
3) Extending protection and reaffirming creators’ Moral Rights;

CARFAC (The Canadian Artists’ Representation/le Front des artists canadiens) is the national association of Canada’s professional visual and media artists. CARFAC defends artists’ rights through advocacy and professional development and produces a schedule of artists’ fees that is widely recognized as the national standard. The Status of the Artist Act empowers CARFAC to negotiate with national organizations on behalf of all visual artists in Canada.

For more information contact:

April Britski
Executive Director, CARFAC National