GESSEL has been pursuing a special programme for the artistic community geared at providing professional legal assistance in contract drafting, negotiations, and conducting disputes. On a broader level, the programme aims to foster among artists the best practice of seeking qualified legal assistance already in the preparation stages of an art project and to ingrain the habit of attending to copyright issues. The programme is addressed to composers, writers, painters, graphic artists, journalists, software programmers, and to performing artists, i.e. to individuals whose works ought to benefit from copyright protection.The programme implementation to date demonstrates that much work must still be done to counter the prevailing stereotype that seeking professional assistance with copyright issues is a costly luxury.

“The programme is addressed to creative artists, those just embarking on their careers as well as those who already have a large body of work to their credit. Its wider goals include propagation of the good habit of seeking qualified legal assistance at the contract drafting stage, and also in the event of disputes. Given this mainly educational value of the entire undertaking, our services under the programme are rendered for symbolic fees”, explains Dorota Bryndal, partner and coordinator of the programme on behalf of GESSEL.

Many artists have already sought recourse to the GESSEL programme. “The problems with which artists approach us are quite varied – drawing up contracts, securing rights in an original design – what is loosely termed ‘know-how protection’, claims with respect to unauthorised use of a work or performance, or enforcement of legally protected interests connected with a person’s image”, Dorota Bryndal elaborates.

Experience demonstrates that duly attending to one’s rights already at the contract drafting stage enables a partner-like relationship during subsequent performance and can save considerable difficulties when it comes to settlements, particularly in situations where the artist’s royalties are tied to revenue from actual sales of the work. Well-considered and thorough definition of the licence terms or of the exact scope of the rights being transferred enables the artist to know exactly “what” remains at her/his disposal without exposing her/himself to claims alleging that use of the same work by a third party impinges upon rights acquired in good faith. In the case of claims against parties using an artistic work without due permission, meanwhile, our firm’s assistance covers analysis of the grounds for such a claim as well as representation of the aggrieved artist or author. “Irrespective of whether such disputes are settled amicably or continue before the courts, we make sure that legitimate concerns of artists are nor dismissed with laconic standard form letters to the effect that their claims are unfounded”, adds Dorota Bryndal.