Art crime and law enforcement

Thème de la ressource: 
Contrôles et enquêtes des forces de l'ordre
Type de ressource: 
Bibliographie - Articles
Australian Institute of Criminology
Pages / Longueur: 
11 p.
Langue de publication: 

Art crime - Why talk about the enforcement of copyright?

For many people, when the phrase ‘art crime’ is uttered, it immediately conjures up images of a James Bond type figure - clad totally in black, suspended from the roof by an incredibly strong wire, flashlight on the head, gently manipulating the Mona Lisa off the wall of the Louvre - who, just as the guards come storming down the hallway, pulls himself up the wire with one hand (the other clutching the famous woman), to retreat down an air conditioning shaft and escape to an exotic island where the head of an international art smuggling organisation has set up her clandestine headquarters.

There is another, somewhat less glamorous aspect of art crime. This is the rip offs, imitations, reproductions, unauthorised use and other fakes and frauds which an artist’s work is vulnerable to once it is in the public sphere and the commercial market. As producers of unique goods with commercial value, artists are particularly vulnerable participants in the market place. The monetary and cultural value of much artistic work stems from the uniqueness of the piece, and the personal or community expression, which it represents. These features of artistic endeavour are undermined if an artwork is replicated and distributed without authorisation. Further, the artist is denied remuneration for her or his work.

When the crime committed against an artist is unauthorised reproduction or distribution, one avenue of recourse for the artist is copyright law. The Copyright Act 1968 sets out civil and criminal sanctions against the infringement of an artist’s copyright. As there are other presenters at this conference who will be concentrating on the complexities of copyright law, for the purposes of this presentation, I will limit my description of a copyright infringement to the simple concept of an unauthorised:

Ø copy,
Ø sale,
Ø hire,
Ø distribution,
Ø exhibition,
Ø importation, or
Ø possession of an artist’s, inventor’s or content producer’s work.

The Copyright Act is only effective in preventing copyright crimes to the extent that it is seen to be, and is, effectively enforced. Awareness of this truth has led to the referral to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs of an inquiry into the enforcement of copyright.
The submissions to and the hearings of the inquiry have sought to uncover, inter alia;

Ø the nature and extent of copyright infringements in Australia,
Ø the extent of criminal involvement in copyright infringements,
Ø the adequacy of civil and criminal sanctions including the remedies which are available under existing provisions, and
Ø the desirability of amending the procedural or evidential elements of the law. 

In the time allocated for this presentation, I will endeavour to give a snapshot of the issues that have been raised in submissions and public hearings before the Committee, with particular emphasis on the application of copyright law to individual artists.