The Art Market Explained: Copyright And The Visual Arts

The Art Market Explained: Copyright And The Visual Arts

It is in the best interest of anyone involved in the art market to make sure that artists are properly looked after and treated with the respect that they deserve so that they are able to pursue their career as an artist and continue to produce art. Copyright is one particular area of the visual arts that is often overlooked and not properly understood which means that many artists are being exploited. I have therefore included some key points in relation to copyright that everyone should be aware of.

1. Owning an artwork does not give you ownership of copyright.
2. Copyright stays with the artist unless they have legally signed it over to someone else (or copyright has expired)
3. Permission is required to reproduce an image of an artists work in almost every situation such as on the internet, in magazines, in newspapers, on posters etc.
4. Many artists are members of copyright collection agency’s who should be contacted as a first port of call if you would like to reproduce a work (eg. for Australia
5. Fees are usually payable to the artist if reproductions of an image of their artwork is used
6. Artists have the right to:
• be attributed as creator of your works;
• take action if your work is falsely attributed; and
• take action if your work is distorted or treated in a way that is prejudicial to your honour or reputation


More info on copyright here:

Copyright is a very serious issue within the visual arts and is one that everyone involved should take responsibility for. The laws are different in every country so you should contact your local copyright organisation for further information. After all, why should someone else profit from an artists image without the artist receiving some sort of compensation. Artists are not charities and struggle enough as it is so do the art world and art market a favour and be aware of your copyright responsibilities and adhere to the copyright laws.

Nick**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.

5 Responses

  1. […] post by artforprofits and software by Elliott […]

  2. Hi Nicholas. Interesting that you should post this subject – I was just attempting to research copyrights concerning fine art and then you made your post. Although I am somewhat interested in the other side of copyrighting. I am intrigued to find out exactly what the limits are of “sampling” or “borrowing” from other sources to incorporate into one’s own artwork. For example, Andy Warhol made his name with colorful modifications of others’ materials – such as photographs taken long before him, or trademarks such as Campbell’s Soup or Brillo. He is just one example of an artist that took heaps of other sources and crafted something of his own out of them. What are the limits of borrowing other people’s work today?

  3. Chad,
    For further information on copyright you should visit the following websites:

    Nicholas Forrest

  4. Good points, Nicholas. The internet is making
    it possible for artists to profit from their
    own work in ways that were never before
    available–but at the same time it makes it
    so much easier to violate the artist’s rights.
    I believe many copyright violations are the
    result of ignorance of copyright laws, which
    is why I’ve just published an article about some
    of the misconceptions of U.S. copyright law.
    It can be read here:

  5. Dear Bonnie Boots,
    Thanks for the comment and the link. The more people know about copyright the better.


    Nicholas Forrest

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