Artists’ Intellectual Property Rights: A Regional Perspective

Author: Jonathan Barrett, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand

Abstract: This article reports on an investigation into levels  of intellectual property knowledge amongst artists working in the top of the South Island of New Zealand. Employing a questionnaire and informal dialogue with approximately 30 artists, plausible information was obtained to indicate general levels of relevant knowledge. Notwithstanding the use of a nonprobability sample, it is concluded that levels of such knowledge are generally low amongst the most economically vulnerable members of the artistic community. Artists generally do not enjoy economic power, and this weakness is compounded by their inability to ascertain and protect their intellectual property rights. It is recommended that simple changes to the Copyright Act 1994 could significantly benefit certain artists. Immediate and general gains could be achieved through better dissemination of basic information on intellectual property rights, and greater awareness of relevant information produced by government agencies.