ARTWORK PURCHASE AGREEMENT [FOR COPYLEFT WORKS OF ART]
Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art] is an actual artwork purchase agreement made between hereinafter “the Artist” (hereinafter “the Artist”) and a cultural institution on January 21st, 2011, for the “purchase” of 3 copyleft works of art by the Artist to be included in the institution’s contemporary art collection.
The agreement is in Turkish and this text is not a legal translation of the agreement but it features some background information as well as highlighting the modifications to the original artwork purchase agreement of the institution, to make it compatible with the copyleft attitude as declared by the Artist:
“.copyleft!_ .you are free to appropriate the related content as you wish, as long as you use a copyleft license to redistribute_ .however giving credits and choosing free/open formats are nice_ http://%5B…%5D/copyleft!”
Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works Of Art] is submitted to the project Vasiyetimdir as an example for an artist’s last will and testament about what would happen to her works once she passes away. Moreover, it also covers the artist’s will for the journey of her work during her lifetime.
The original agreement in Turkish is anonymized by abstracting the personally identifiable information about both parties. Only some parts of the actual agreement text are kept as is. These include the parts which highlight the copyleft attitude along with parts which constitute the aesthetics of a legal agreement. The rest of the text which would be noise are abstracted as well.
The original copyleft notice attached to the work is not a legal document, not a license in legal terms, but a declaration of the artist’s will independent of the mediation of law or any other intermediaries. The original artwork purchase agreement is modified to reflect the copyleft terms declared by the Artist, but the resulting Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art] signed by the parties may not be legally enforceable since the modified terms may be incompatible with the laws of the jurisdiction, or they may not be referring to the terminology of the existing intellectual property laws in a proper way. In this sense Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art] may not be considered a legal document but an artistic gesture, which was also welcomed by the institution as an extension of the copyleft politics of the work included in the collection.
The copyleft attitude grants freedom on the artwork to everyone. So everyone is free to reproduce, include in their collections, exhibit, modify, build on the artwork, and even make money from it. To benefit from these freedoms, they are required to grant the same freedoms to everyone else when they build on and/or redistribute the work. This reciprocity of freedom constitutes the copyleft approach.
To comply with the copyleft approach, all terms in the original artwork purchase agreement of the institution that reads “the artist grants permission to the institution to…” are modified to read “the artist grants permission to the institution, as well as everyone else, to….” . The modified Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art] also states that, it does not grant any exclusive rights and freedom to the institution other than those granted to everyone else. This ensures that the “editions” included in the collection through this agreement would be no different than any other “editions” of the work that can be reproduced by anyone else.
As in the examples above, the main strategy of the Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works Of Art] is modification of the original terms which grant any right to the institution, so that the agreement would grant the same freedoms to everyone else as well. In this way, no hierarchies would be created through the agreement in regards to the institution’s and the public’s freedom on the work and the work would remain free/libre for everyone, encouraging them to build on it. Following are the other modifications the original agreement.
The edition number of the works are declared as “unlimited edition – copyleft! http://%5B…%5D/copyleft_/” supplying a weblink to the copyleft declaration of the Artist.
If the Artwork gets damaged in the future for any reason, the original agreement grants the institution the right to destroy the damaged artwork and to reproduce it, remaining loyal to the original. And modified version adds the term “Yet, everyone else is also free to reproduce and appropriate the Artwork as described on the website http://%5B…%5D.net.”, sup, supplying a weblink for the instructions to reproduce the work. This addition also overrides the obligation to reproduce by “remaining loyal to the original” since it allows appropriation along with reproduction. The notion of the “original” artwork also blurs in this context since the work is in unlimited edition and the reproduction can be done by anyone; all manifestations of the work following the instructions supplied on the weblink are original; and all appropriations are allowed to make new copyleft originals.
Regarding the granted permissions and the publicity, everyone is granted permission to exhibit and represent the work, along with the institution. The images of the works should also be free/libre for anyone to be used for any purpose, including commercial use, without requiring prior permission and royalty fees. The requirements for exercising any freedom granted by the copyleft work are attributing to the Artist, to the work and to the copyleft declaration of the Artist; and granting the same freedoms to everyone when redistributing any appropriation of the work. Since the images of the artwork are considered appropriating/building on the copyleft work, the photographer and/or the institution who will have copyright on the image should agree to release the images as copyleft, letting everyone exercise the same freedoms on the images by attributing to them for the photo credits, along with attributing to the Artist and to the work.
The original agreement authorizes the institution to pursue all legal proceedings against the infringement of economic and moral rights by third parties, to stop and prevent the act of infringement. Here, “the infringement of economic and moral rights” are replaced by “the infringement of copyleft terms” and thus the institution is authorized to pursue legal proceedings to protect the freedom of public on any appropriation of the work.
Regarding the mutual obligations and rights, the original agreement obliges the institution to preserve the work in a proper way but the modified agreement does not enforce such an obligation. The institution is even free to destroy the work. Also the original agreement obliges the institution to provide insurance for the artworks upon delivery but the modified version grants the institution the freedom of not providing insurance. So there should be no insurance cost for the institution and the works can easily and cheaply be reproduced according to the supplied instructions.
The original agreement states that the institution becomes the owner of the artworks but the modified agreement states that the institution becomes the owner of one of the physical editions of each work. Everyone else can also become the owner of one of the physical editions of any/all of the works either by reproducing it themselves or by purchasing an edition reproduced by anyone else. There is no original/reproduction hierarchy between any of the editions, no matter by whom it is reproduced. There is no “original” and none of the reproductions are signed or numbered to substitute such an original. The works’ physical editions are unlimited editions, which can be reproduced by anyone and the works themselves are copyleft.
Free/Libre cultural works are about freedom of the public on the works, not about their price. They can be sold and purchased. The institution has made a payment to the Artist for the purchase of three copyleft artworks. The amount of the payment is determined by the institution, which is accepted by the Artist.
The original agreement gives the institution the right to sell the artwork. So does the modified version. Yet the buyer should accept the copyleft status of he work. A term about the freedom to give away the artworks as gifts is also added to the modified agreement, as an addition to the original term about the freedom to sell the work.
Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art] also clearly states that the Artist has waived the rights granted to herself through conventional intellectual property laws by granting all of them to everyone in the scope of copyleft terms. The works .and all information about the works are free/libre for everyone
Artwork Purchase Agreement [For Copyleft Works of Art]
.copyleft!_ , hereinafter “the Artist”, 2011, 2017
you are free to appropriate the related content as you wish, as long as you use a copyleft license to redistribute_ .however giving credits and choosing free/open formats are nice_
This work is also multiple licensed with all “copyleft” licenses being listed and will be listed at https://freedomdefined.org/Licenses
For a pdf of the above agreement, click here.
hereinafter “the Artist” is an artist.
Vasiyetimdir* is a publication project that aims to explore how artworks will subsist over long periods of time. Art works live in artist studios, private collections, museums, storage spaces, or simply in memories. But how far do the artists want to control what happens to their works when they are no longer? How do they want to exert their control? We directed these questions to the artists we are in dialogue with. We are accumulating their answers through m-est.org.
*Vasiyetimdir is a Turkish phrase that can roughly be translated into English as “It is my will that…” The phrase holds a tint of the melodramatic, mixed with a sentimental flair.
Vasiyetimdir was conceived by Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Özge Ersoy, and Merve Ünsal.