Visual artists join as members of Screenrights to claim and receive royalty payments, and can also access additional services.
There are no Screenrights royalties payable to visual artists just because their artwork appeared in a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project.
Did that grab your attention? We hope so.
Screenrights royalty payments are made to rightsholders. Whether you are a rightsholder or not will depend on Australian copyright law and your contracts. You may be entitled to claim some Screenrights royalties, but not others. You may be able to claim all Screenrights royalties for all your artwork where it has appeared in films, TV shows, documentaries and other screen projects, or none at all. Keep reading to learn more.
Screenrights collects and pays secondary royalties from Australia and New Zealand. These royalties can range in value from a few cents to thousands of dollars.
You may be entitled to artistic works royalties where your artwork appeared in a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project that has earned educational, government or retransmission royalties.
Artistic works include paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, photographs and other works of ‘artistic craftmanship’.
See Royalty Payments to find out more about Screenrights royalties and the rights you need to own or control to be entitled to receive them.
Getting it right from the start
The rights associated with collecting Screenrights royalties are transferable. Whether or not you own or control the right to receive Screenrights royalties today depends on the specific terms of the contracts entered into when the film, TV show, documentary or other screen project is made and the specific terms of any subsequent contracts.
Typically, when an artist gives permission for their artwork to appear in a film, TV show, documentary or other screen project it is by way of a licence, rather than an assignment of rights. This usually means that the artist has not transferred the rights to receive Screenrights royalties. Each case is unique though – and you should always check your agreements.
Screenrights publishes sample contract clauses which highlights relevant legal issues to consider in order to get it right from the start. Of course, you should always seek advice from a qualified legal practitioner before signing any contract.
Some of the agreements that may deal with Screenrights royalties include:
Licence for use
Agency appointment agreement
Artistic Works FAQs
In deciding whether a work is an artistic work, Screenrights follows the definitions in the Australian and New Zealand Copyright Acts.
These definitions include:
and other works of ‘artistic craftsmanship’.
Screenrights pays royalties to the person or entity that owns or holds the relevant copyright in your artistic work, specifically the right to copy, communicate and retransmit your artistic work from a television broadcast.
Generally, the creator of an artistic work owns the relevant copyright in the work. However, under Australian and New Zealand law, rights are transferable. The original artist can enter into a contract under which copyright is transferred to another party. You should check your contracts in relation to your artistic works. In most cases it will be clear from the contracts if you can claim any or all of the royalties – if not, we recommend that you seek legal advice.
If you sell the artistic work you have created, you will still own copyright in relation to the work unless your contracts state otherwise.
When artistic works royalties are payable for a program, Screenrights endeavours to identify which artists may be entitled to claim the artistic works royalties for the program. We do this using television program guides and internet research. However, we are unable to say whether your work did in fact appear in the program as we do not have access to the actual program. We rely on your completion of an ‘artistic works registration’ form to confirm that your artwork did in fact appear in the program. By completing this form, you are warranting that your artistic works appeared in the program.
Your artwork has to appear in the program, either featured or unfeatured. There is no time duration requirement nor is there a requirement for the entire artwork to appear on screen.
It depends, but an approximate minimum per artist is $125.
Screenrights collects records of copying, communication and retransmission throughout the Australian nancial year (1 July – 30 June). We call this period a distribution year. The royalty payment amount depends on how much money there is to distribute, the programs
that were copied, communicated and retransmitted, and how many artworks were identified in those programs.
In some years the royalty payments have been close to the minimum and in other years the royalty payments have been
in excess of the approximate minimum. There is no way of knowing how much the payment will be until late June of the distribution year.
It’s possible that your artwork appeared in a program even though you may have not given permission. In some cases this is allowed under copyright law.
In Australia, the Copyright Act gives copyright owners the exclusive right to deal with their copyright material in certain ways. Generally, copyright is infringed when someone uses all, or a substantial part, of copyright material in a way that is exclusively reserved to the copyright owner, without the copyright owner’s permission.
However, there are exceptions and defences to copyright infringement, such as the fair dealing exception where copyright material can be used for the purpose of criticism or review, without the copyright owner’s permission.
If there are royalties available for your artwork in a program then, regardless of whether you gave permission for your artwork to appear in that program, you may be entitled to claim the royalties.
If your artistic work is used in a program broadcast on Australian or New Zealand television, you can register it with Screenrights. Contact Screenrights Visual Arts Coordinator for a registration form or download it from www.screenrights.org. We ask for information about the program, and if known, information about the broadcasts of the program as well. You are not able to register artworks if they are yet to appear in a program.
Alternatively, if you are a member of Viscopy you may also wish to check whether they have registered your work on your behalf. (www.viscopy.net.au).
Registering your claims
Once you’ve determined that you are a rightsholder and can claim Screenrights royalties, you need to tell us about it. You can do this by submitting registrations. Download the Artistic Works Registration Form here.
Appointing an agent (or Not)
As a visual artist, you can join as a member and receive royalty payments directly from Screenrights. You can also choose to appoint an agent to claim and receive royalty payments on your behalf. The choice is yours.
When you appoint an agent you will need to provide the agent with information about the films, TV shows, documentaries and other screen projects in which your artwork has appeared and where you are entitled to claim Screenrights royalties. The agent then registers claims with Screenrights on your behalf.
Typically, an agent will charge a commission for the services they provide. Often this commission is a percentage of the royalties the agent collects on your behalf. Appointing an agent is a commercial decision and agreement terms vary – so always do your homework and see a qualified lawyer before signing.
The Copyright Agency (formerly Viscopy) offers a service to visual artists to collect Screenrights royalties on their behalf, as well as a range of other complementary services for visual artists.
Royalties from Around the World
For artists wishing to claim royalties from outside of Australia and New Zealand, the Copyright Agency (formerly Viscopy) is the collecting society for Australian and New Zealand artists. Similar organisations operate in other countries around the world.
An artist may therefore choose to receive Screenrights royalty payments for Australian and New Zealand directly from Screenrights and other international royalties from Copyright Agency. Alternatively an artist may choose to receive all royalties from Copyright Agency, which means the artist will receive Screenrights royalties indirectly with the deduction of Copyright Agency’s commission as agent. The choice is yours.
Visit the Help Centre to learn more about the royalties we pay, registering your claims and timing of payments.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Membership is free. If you receive an allocation of royalties, we apply an administration fee to recover our costs at the point of payment.
When you become a member of Screenrights, the name on the Membership Application must be the person or legal entity that owns or controls the rights in your programs.
- Your membership details and any information on royalties earned are kept in confidence. This information is only available to authorised Screenrights employees.
- However, if your project is funded by a funding body Screenrights may report royalty payments for that title to the funding body. As the funding agencies are owners of copyright in the programs, they are entitled to receive information as to the royalties collected.
Our members are rightsholders in film and television programs, including producers, directors, scriptwriters, artists, production companies, distributors, sales agents, commercial collection agents, broadcasters and other collecting societies.
- If you hold the right to copy, communicate or retransmit any or all of the copyright materials in a program you are entitled to become a member of Screenrights. Membership is free.
- You should join Screenrights if you can claim educational, government and/or retransmission royalties for any or all of the copyright materials in a program. If your program is broadcast on television in Australia or New Zealand, we recommend you become a member and register your programs.