Cherokee artists to have better copyright protection
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the Native American Arts and Crafts Copyright Act Amendment.
TAHLEQUAH, OKLA. – The Tribal Council’s Education and Culture Committee voted to amend the Native American Arts and Crafts Copyright Act of 2007 on Oct. 15 to provide better protection for Cherokee artists’ copyrights.
The main purpose of the amendment is to prevent the purchase of the copyright of a work of art when the Cherokee Nation or its entities initially purchase the art from the artist.
“In the event Cherokee Nation or its affiliated entities request bids for arts or crafts or solicit for the purchase of arts and crafts, the purchase of copyrights of the item is prohibited in the initial sale,” the act states. “Cherokee Nation and its affiliated entities shall establish policies to include in their contracts in purchasing arts and crafts to avoid any prohibitions of this act.”
Councilor Meredith Frailey said the amended act does not include “a right of action” or a right to begin and prosecute an action in court, but once the tribe establishes policies to protect artists’ work, it should prevent the CN from violating an artist’s copyright.
“I’ve had artists that have concerns with the Cherokee Nation Arts and Crafts Act. They’re copyrights have been violated,” Frailey said.
The definition of arts and crafts in the act includes any traditional or contemporary skill or activity or creative work of graphics, painting, sculpture, music, basketry, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, photography or other crafts or media that an artist chooses to produce works of art.
During the Education and Culture Committee meeting, Frailey explained contracts or purchase orders currently used by the CN to purchase art do not require artists to give up their copyright. However, in the past some artists were forced to give up their copyrights when they sold art to the CN.
“And there has been some artwork that has been reproduced without the artist’s permission,” Frailey said. So, hopefully, by establishing this policy within those entities like CNB (Cherokee Nation Businesses) it prohibit that from happening again.”
The amended Native American Arts and Crafts Copyright Act was unanimously approved in committee and would become effective 30 days after its approval and only applies to future transactions after the effective date. The act will likely be voted on during the next regular Tribal Council meeting on Nov. 12.