CARFAC Seeking Royalty For Images on National Gallery Website

The National Post reports that CARFAC, which represents Canadian visual artists, has filed a complaint against the National Gallery of Canada.  CARFAC is seeking a new royalty for the use of members' works on the National Gallery website.


  1. Did I read this wrong?
    Is CARFAC asking for the artists to be paid for the exhibition of their work, plus for the production of promotional materials related to that same exhibition? I can understand if the material is not related to the exhibition for which they are being paid… However if I read this correctly, it seems like, in the TV sector, the actor gets paid for the production of the show and a royalty for its broadcast, but also when an ad for the show is aired which contains their image.

  2. Ironic…
    …considering today on CBC Radio 1, an artist stated she was happy that her work was being shown on the Internet…

  3. April Britski says:

    Executive Director, CARFAC
    These negotiations are about a scale agreement that includes payment for copyright use. It’s not specific to digital rights. Web use is part of it, but so are exhibition fees and other types of reproductions. The point of the complaint is that the gallery is trying to avoid negotiating any sort of copyright fees with us at all.

    As for Anon-K’s comments, it is true that CARFAC recommends that an exhibition fee be paid as well as other reproduction uses, such as images in an exhibition catalogue. In the case of web use, the recommended fee is $25 per image when our exhibition fees are being paid. That’s right – $25 for the duration of the exhibition. Not exactly a hefty fee, is it? That fee will be open to negotiation… if the gallery returns to the table.

  4. Wow! Just Wow! Copyright this, copyright that, enough already let’s just abolish it
    Or at the very least go back to the US Constitution’s original definition of copyright, but not one iota more. It’s supposed to be about creating culture not having hundreds of copyright collectives, seeking ever more money and ever more control over _society’s_(read everyone’s) culture. Our laws are way overcomplicated and need to drastically simplified. It’s sorta like spaghetti code, nobody has any idea what things do, yet they tinker with it, produce the result they desire in the short term, but are completely mystified as to all the mysterious random side effects.

    It’s no wonder nobody respects copyright anymore, nobody can understand what has become of copyright. One thing I was always taught in business courses and dealing in customer service is that the customer is _ALWAYS_ right. If customers want to watch tv shows on their schedule, you give it to them(at a reasonable price – no $1.99 an episode is not a reasonable price) and without them having to jump through 1000’s of hoops for it.

  5. @April Britski
    Can you please answer why CARFAC would be asking for fees to use the work in advertising the exhibition in which the work is being promoted? Does the fee paid by the National Gallery include this use, or not? Your answer, while unintentional, reminds me of the cell companies’ System Access Fee. On a total cellular bill $6.95 wasn’t a whole lot. However the nickle and diming adds up over time. While I could understand it for uses outside of the exhibition for which you are being paid, why for promoting a use for which you are?

    Why does the artist not pay the National Gallery to show at an exhibition? After all, the NGC is providing a forum and physical location for the artist to promote their work; at the very least they could charge rent for the floor/wall space.

  6. Melissa Gruber says:

    I don’t think you understand what CARFAC is asking for…
    Exhibition and reproduction fees are important because income from sales is low for most visual artists. Nobody who exhibits at the National Gallery will be planning their retirement on it – they could be hard pressed to pay a month’s rent with the fees the gallery pays – if they pay them at all. Plus the gallery often builds their collection with donations so there are a lot of artists getting pretty screwed right now.

    CARFAC wants the gallery to set some standards and is asking that a very small percentage of a million dollar budget go to artists. The gallery spends *way* more money painting the walls for an exhibit than they pay artists. Does that really sound fair?

  7. @Melissa Gruber
    First of all, lets separate all fees related to an exhibition from fees related to the use of an artist’s work outside of an exhibition.

    In the first case, the NGC is promoting the work of the artist, and the artist is being paid for this. Does the contract that the artist signs cover the use of the works in merchandising and advertisement for the exhibition? If yes, then the use for which CARFAC is asking to be paid is already covered. Let’s not forget that the exposure that the artist gets during the exhibition itself can generate sales of other work for the artist, so even though the direct income is lower, the overall income is increased. The NGC is undertaking advertising on behalf of the artist, what is this worth to the artist? Consider it as services in lieu of rent. If the contract, on the other hand, excluded the use in merchandising and other promotional materiel, then CARFAC has a point. How does the fees paid by the NGC compare with those paid by private art exhibits, and in those cases, in particular if the private exhibit pays a lower fee, then do they also pay separately for the rights to use the work when advertising the exhibit? If they don’t, then is it fair that the NGC, being a federally funded organization, be made to pay even more simply because they are public?

    In the second case the NGC and the owner of the work should be negotiating a deal for the use of the image of the work. The owner can be the artist, the NGC or a third party. I say owner because, if the NGC or a third party is the owner, then the artist has sold the work as an original, along with reproduction rights, unless the artist retained ownership of the reproduction rights for copies in the sale contract. If the artist has been paid for all rights to the work, then does it really sound fair that the artist gets an ongoing fee for something that they have no rights to? Note that under this setup, if the artist negotiates a usage contract with the NGC, then sells the all rights to the work, the usage contract should transfer to the purchaser.

  8. Melissa Gruber says:

    Hello Anon-K,

    One of the biggest problems with copyright is that corporations often pressure artists into signing their rights away. When users pay for access, the money goes to corporations, or in this case a crown corporation, and not artists. CARFAC encourages artists to hold on to their copyrights so they can be more fairly compensated for the value of their work.

    Right now, contracts are negotiated on an individual basis between the National Gallery and each artist. Some artists are paid fairly and some are asked to waive some or all of their copyrights. When the gallery acquires work, sometime they acquire the copyrights and sometimes the artist keeps them. Sometimes artists are asked to donate their artwork and donate the copyright – in these cases the artists see no compensation at all for their work. We have been trying to develop contracts with the gallery so a minimum standard can be met.

    Many artists do not feel they are in a position to turn down a chance to show their work at the National Gallery because of the exposure it gets them. Unfortunately, exposure doesn’t pay an artists’ rent. Even Governor General Award winning artists have a hard time earning a living from their artwork. Some have incomes that fall significantly below the national average and others take on a second job to subsidize their practice. Sales alone do not fairly compensate artists for their work. Public funders recognize this and often require galleries to pay artist fees as a condition of their funding.

    Many much smaller galleries with far lower budgets manage to pay artists fairly. How can our National Gallery, which should be setting a standard, refuse to even talk about the fees they pay with the associations that represent visual artists?

    If you have other questions, feel free to email me directly: communications at carfac dot ca.

  9. resolved?
    So…has this issue been resolved yet? I don’t see further discussion about this thread.