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Copyright Contracts and Earnings of Visual Creators: A Survey of 5,800 British Designers, Fine Artists, Illustrators and Photographers

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CIPPM (Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management)
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Abstract

There is a common perception that digitisation has prompted changes in creative labour markets. In particular, it is widely assumed that exploiters insist on "grabbing rights" (i.e. broadly conceived assignments of rights), that visual artists are not able to negotiate, that they are paid less and less, and that they are compelled to waive their moral rights. This study suggests a much more equivocal picture. In place of a straightforward narrative of decline, the results of the survey suggest that in most fields there has been less change over the last decade than one might have expected: that, terms of exploitation are most often about the same. That is not to say that there are no discernible changes in particular occupations and media. Respondents and interviewees identify some important shifts. Perhaps surprisingly, it seems there are changes in practice that are, from the creator's perspective, both positive and negative. The most positive change is identified amongst the fine artists where half (50%) see their personal bargaining position as having improved, with only 6% perceiving a weakening. The most disturbing changes are in relation to photographers. About half of all photographers (49%) say their bargaining position has worsened, with only 22% reporting improvements. A significant percentage of photographers (40%) report an increase in assignments (compared with 6% who think they have decreased). Moreover, 24% report an increase in moral rights waivers (compared to 3% who identify a decrease), and a decline in the practice of attribution. 31% of photographers see attribution as decreasing over the last decade, and only 8% increasing. 28% say income from secondary use has decreased, while only 16% say it has decreased.

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