Meskenas vs ACP Publishing
The moral rights Act was introduced in 2000. An artist does not need to assert theses rights as moral rights cannot be assigned. Around the same time a lot of moral infringement cases were floating around but they were all settled out of court. Meskenas case was the first.
A photograph of Mary Donaldson posing in front of a portrait of Victor Chang was published in the Woman’s Day magazine. Artist Vladas Meskenas’ portrait of Victor Chang was incorrectly attributed to painter Jiawei Shen. The magazine was contacted by Mr Meskenas asking for an official apology and acknowledgement that the work was his.
Only after 90 phone calls and more than a year later was a correction published in the Woman’s Day magazine, weeks before the deciding court dates were to begin. Whilst the person in the portrait, Mr Chang, was considered the owner of the work, as he commissioned the portrait; Meskenas was found to have suffered a moral infringement of his rights as the artist and so was awarded a total $9100 in damages. $1,100 for general damages and $8000 for aggravated damages.
This case is the first ruling of moral infringement in Australia.
The moral to this is to CHECK and RECHECK your work and don’t just assume it will be ok.
You cannot sell your rights even if the copyright in the artwork has been assigned to someone else.