Michael Riley
Michael Riley


As a Visual Artist, you can choose from two types of membership, most artists join up for both.

Since 2 July 2012, Copyright Agency has been managing Viscopy’s services under a services agreement. The agreement sets out the deductions from licence fees for Viscopy members that may be made by Copyright Agency.


Membership of Viscopy entitles artists to licence fees from:

  • Viscopy licences (e.g. to public galleries and auction houses)
  • educational and government use of images in TV broadcasts under statutory licences if you are not a Screenrights member
  • uses of images overseas under licence schemes managed by Viscopy international affiliates.


Membership for Visual Artists with the Copyright Agency entitles artists to licence fees from:


If you are just a member of Viscopy and not a member of Copyright Agency, there is an additional fee deducted by Viscopy from statutory licence fees collected by Copyright Agency. That fee is 17% for income collected between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014, reducing to 10% for income collected after 1 July 2014, regardless of when the income is paid to you.

If you join Copyright Agency directly you do not pay Viscopy’s commission on Copyright Agency statutory income.

If you join both Viscopy and Copyright Agency, there are the following deductions:

  • 25% of income collected from Viscopy’s Copyright licences in Australia and New Zealand and statutory license income collected by Screenrights
  • 10% of income collected by Viscopy’s international partners, which is only deducted if your art is reproduced internationally and income is collected overseas
  • Around 14% of income collected from ‘statutory’ licence fees by Copyright Agency

Please note, if you joined Copyright Agency l Viscopy after July 2, 2012 you are a member of both organisations.  If you joined before July 2, 2012 and would like to check your membership status please contact us on 1800 066 844.

Once you join Copyright Agency, Viscopy or both organisations, our general member services include:

  • free national seminars
  • member e-news
  • funding for visual arts projects through our Cultural Fund
  • funding for career development opportunities for visual artists through our Career Fund
  • advocacy for creator’s rights


  • Sign up here (Note: This link takes you to the Viscopy website where you can opt to sign up for Viscopy Membership, or Copyright Agency | Viscopy membership).
  • Terms and Conditions


A photographer’s rights depends on a number of factors, such as whether the photographer was on staff or a freelancer, the type of client and the purpose of the photographer.

Freelance Photographers

If a photograph was taken by a freelance photographer for a client, the agreement between the photographer and the client will determine what rights the client has and what, if any, rights the photographer has.

In some cases, the agreement clearly set this out. If not, the client is likely to be entitled to use the photograph for the purposes it was commissioned for, but not for other purposes without the photographer’s permission.

There is a special provision in the Copyright Act for photographs commissioned for a private or domestic purpose, where there is no agreement between the photographer and the client about who owns copyright (section 35(5)).

There are also special provisions for works made for, or first published by, a government (Commonwealth, State or Territory). The government owns copyright in the absence of an agreement to the contrary.

Because of changes to the law from time to time, ownership can be affecting by when a work was created.

The following summarises when the client, rather than the photographer, was the first owner of copyright in a photograph in the absence of agreement about copyright ownership.

Since 1 July 1998
  • commissioned for private or domestic purpose (includes: portrait of family members, wedding party, children)
  • commissioned portrait (for any purpose)
  • client = government
if client indicated purpose of photograph, photographer can restrain use for any other purpose (see Matthews v ACP)
Before 1 July 1998
  • photograph commissioned for any purpose
  • client = government

  • photograph taken since 1 May 1969, and
  • client indicated purpose of photograph

photographer can restrain use for any other purpose


In most cases, copyright in photographs taken by employees as part of their job is owned by the employer. However, there is a special provision in the Copyright Act for employees of newspapers, magazines and other periodical publications.



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