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In Zimbabwe majority of visual artists have been unfairly taken aantage of by various local and foreign art institutions, art dealers collectors, copycats, various print and electronic media platforms with regard to the usage of their artworks without consent. Numerous of their infringement cases have passed unresolved due to ignorance on the legal laws that protect them. Even after their demise some corn-artists aware of certain laws, loopholes and ignorance amongst the supposed beneficiaries are quick to pounce on their artworks’ legal ownership claiming certain rights

Sophisticated issues of Copyright have become part of daily life for all artists who work with images. It’s no longer a domain only confined to legal practitioners it now demands all visual artists to understand and protect their copyright a well as respect the copyright of others. Copyright is a bundle of rights which visual artists, musicians, writers and video and film makers own in relation to their work.

It exists in every kind of creative work, it’s automatic once you create an original work and is free. For visual artists they have such important rights to reproduce or copy their work, publish their work in a book, magazine or newspaper, communicate their work, for example, put their artwork on the internet amongst others. Other people will need their permission or a license if they wish to do these things.

Copyright is important because it protects your work against use by others without your permission and allows you to get money for your work. It is important for you not to lose ownership or control of your copyright. When you give someone permission to use your work, you can ask for money in exchange.

It is vital that as an artist if you enter your work in an exhibition, festival, art prize or competition there are usually condition of entry which you are asked to agree to before submitting your work. Make sure that you have received, read and understood the conditions of entry before sending any work to the organisers.

It is of great importance that you get legal aice if there is anything you do not understand or do not agree to.

Visual artists, like all other well trained, hardworking people, are entitled to be paid for their work and their efforts. Respecting the copyright of artists is one way to ensure they receive proper compensation for their work.

They too should respect the copyright of others. Visual artists have been taken to court and sued for making artwork from photos they found on the internet and magazines.

Just because the practice of downloading images you find on the internet is widespread and common doesn’t make it legal or right.

Increasingly as artists take copyright infringers to court, ripping off images becomes risky. Understand that any image you find in books, magazines, on TV, the internet, and in aertising could possibly be copyrighted.

As a visual artist you have to think twice before taking an image you did not create yourself, putting your name on it and making art or design from it. You should not take an image without the permission of the artist and benefitting from it financially. You should not take an image without the permission of the artist and using it without giving credit to the artist.

Use your own artistic talents to create your own photos, images, designs and illustrations. Or pay an artist to create something original. Or pay an artist a license fee for the use of hisher image.

Copyright does not protect ideas and styles. For copyright protection to exist you must express your idea in some physical, material or digital form. Copyright begins when an original work is created and It continues for your lifetime and for up to 70 years after your death.

Artists may also assign rights to someone else in return for financial compensation. Once they have done this, the rights holder takes complete control over the artwork and can profit from it freely.

Occasionally artists give up all rights to their images, voluntarily place their artwork into the public domain. Once an artist does this, that artist is no longer permitted to benefit economically from the work so giving up rights to your artwork is usually inaisable, especially when you have the right to allow anyone to freely use your work with your permission.

Visual artists must also be aware of their moral rights and protect them. They are their personal rights that connect them as creators of artworks to their work. These are about being properly named or credited when your work is used, and the way your work is treated and shown.

Source : The Herald

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