See Linda Scales VAI for full text.
Below is a summary of key elements from her text.

Copyright gives protection and rights for reproduction. Copyright ownership legally prevents any third party from

  1. Making any reproduction of the work
  2. Making the work available to the public throughout any means including publishing, posting on the internet, rental and lending
  3. Making an adaptation of the work e.g, a translation

All forms and media are eligible for copyright as long as they are deemed original.  Appropriation, sampling, and sourcing from existing work broadens our views and interpretation of originality and while there is no fixed definition of original it usually means a fair degree of labour, judgement and skill and not copied from another source. Ideas and principles underlying a piece of work are not protected, for example, Christo does not have copyright on wrapping.

Copyright arises spontaneously on the creation of a work there is no registration required.

Things you can do to protect your copyright

  • Reflect all agreements in writing
  • Use the copyright symbol after your name
  • In case of commissions shared copyright can be sought
  • Keep a good record of your work (photographic and documentary) evidence


Misunderstandings as to ownership can arise when a work is commissioned. Commissioners often assume because they paid for the work they own the copyright. This is not the case. The copyright remains with the artist unless it is assigned to the commissioner in a written agreement. The commissioner has the right to use the work for which it is commissioned.

For further information contact Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation (IVARO).

Copyright in contracts

Contracts and commissions  should consider ownership of the work. The commissioner who pays for the work usually has ownership of the work with the copyright remaining with the artist.

In the case of multiple copies such as a photographic series and recordings an agreement should confirm what the commissioner can assume ownership of - e.g. one set of photographic prints. The contract should make clear that work incidental to the commission e.g. notes, writings, sketches and drawing and other works relating to the process remains with the artist unless otherwise agreed with the commissioner as part of the contract.



Commission Call Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

16 August 2017

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum, invite proposals for a commission focusing on the creation of new work through...More..

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Greystones Educate Together National School appointed a voluntary committee with relevant expertise to oversee the per cent for art commissioning process. An external curator, Máire Davey, was appointed specifically for her expertise in working in a highly collaborative way as meaningful involvement from the students and school was viewed as central to the process. The procurement route chosen was limited invited competition.

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