The Cannery Artist Agreement, continued.

November 10, 2007

Well, it seems as though my last blog caused a bit of controversy in the art world of Second Life… namely with the Cannery gallery and their artist agreement, which is apparently undergoing some rewording and changing around.

I just want to make one thing clear: I don’t have anything against the Cannery, or any of its affiliates, employees, curators or whathaveyou. I was given their artist agreement by a friend, and I thought it to be a prime example of what artists should look for when reading through an artist agreement that a gallery provides. I was in no way, shape or form trying to slander anyone’s name or organization– I was doing what I exist in this world to do, and that is to help artists protect themselves and their work by raising awareness.

Recently, Vint Falken wrote a response to my breakdown of the Cannery’s artist agreement, and I’m going to take this time to defend myself so as to clarify my position on the whole matter:

“Cyanide Seelowe says the old artist agreement is an unfair one, especially compared to First Life artist agreements. I disagree, as – something that all should have learned by now – Second Life is not First Life:

Wait wait… I never once said that the Cannery’s artist agreement was “an unfair one, especially compared to First Life agreements.” I didn’t even make any references to First life artist agreements in the article… I kept my attention focused solely on the agreement at hand. Second Life is not First Life, this is true– but this does not mean that artists should not be aware of what terms and agreements they are getting themselves into when submitting their work to a gallery. Copyrights are still copyrights, no matter which life you are dealing with.

… you should never give full perm textures… blablabla‘ – If we really wanted to steal it, we could just as well have pressed ‘print screen’ on 512×512 textures, no?

Grossly misquoted, but a valid point. In fact, Rightasrain Rimbaud (proprietor of the Cannery) made an insightful comment on the blog that I think every artist should consider: “I don’t agree that artists should ‘never ever give away rights’. You have to give to get! It is more a question of what you get in return. We are propsing, promotion, some sales and exposure in SL/Web. People need to decide if it is worth it.” I STILL think artists should be wary about giving full perm work to people they do not know… but this is just one person’s opinion. I do not doubt the Cannery’s honesty, as they have given me no reason to, but artists STILL need to be aware that this is one of the easiest ways for dishonest people to steal your intellectual property, and it should not be common practice in Second Life.

… do not email the work…‘ – Well, then Shoshana could not have made the book.

Decent compensation, I suppose. Unfortunately, it was not mentioned in the original agreement, and so artists would not be initially aware of why, exactly, they’d be sending their works to someone they do not know via email– you can understand why that would sound a little fishy to an outside artist. Also, it should be clarified who will be getting the proceeds from the books being sold– are the artists featured in the book getting a cut of the profits, or is it just for the sake of having their works published? Either way is fine, but a little clarification would be nice.

‘... complaining about the 25% the artists receive from the show’s total proceeds…‘ – Real life photographs & stuff sell – in galleries – at USD 100 each at least. Our photographs sold at USD 1.50 each. Yet, the time invested was still enormous. Believe me, nobody is getting rich out of this.

It’s no secret that using the Second Life art scene to get rich would be a questionable endeavor at best. I understand that we all have tiers to pay and events to host– Rightasrain Rimbaud explained that, “our idea on 25% is that we have a lot of costs to run a show and our estimate is that 25% is about half of the profits, so is meant to be an equal share.” Again, clarification is key, and it sounds like the Cannery is taking steps to provide that clarification in their new artist agreement.

… it’s unfair that artists who sold less get an even share of the money…‘ – It is fair, if they did not like that idea, they should not have participated. To sell the largest amount of photographs in Second Life: become a virtual pr0n photographer. We wanted to make sure that artists with beautiful yet less commercial – less nude – photographs would get rewarded too.

Once again, grossly misquoted. I actually said “This means that artists who did not sell any works will still be getting a portion of the 25% artist cut made from the show. If your works sell, and someone else’s didn’t, the artist who did not sell any works in the show will be getting a portion of the money that YOUR work earned.” I do agree with Vint in that if the artist does not like that idea, then they should not participate in the Cannery’s shows– this is why my article encourages artists to thoroughly read through artist agreements and make assessments for themselves. I also commend the Cannery’s dedication to encouraging more varied subject matter in SL photography– this is something that’s sorely needed in our art community.

… on eligable and distribution of proceeds…‘ – Start complaining about that when you have proof we do not pay. Until then, do something constructive, please.

Vint and I obviously have different definitions and/or concepts of the words “complaining” and “constructive”. I never once in my article stated that the Cannery is dishonest in any way, nor did I accuse them of not paying their artists. In fact, it sounds like they have a very satisfied group of artists that show their work in their establishment. As far as being constructive goes: it is in my humble opinion that my criticisms of the original Cannery artist agreement were quite constructive; so much so, that they are considering changing and/or rewording some parts. This strengthens my respect for the Cannery and its proprietors, because it means that they actually care about what artists in the community think!

Your artworks may be used for any promotional materials regarding the show they are in, and you will not be paid for it.‘ – Duh! Promotional means we’re not selling it. Else it would be merchandise and the artists would get their share. Promotional means to promote the show. Which benefits the sales of artwork and merchandise, which benefits the artists.

“Duh” indeed! This is common practice in galleries from both lives– not everyone out there is aware that promotional materials used for galleries are unpaid representations of their artworks, because Second Life may be their first venture into any form of professional artistry. It is within every right the Cannery has to do this, and I encourage artists to embrace this type of promotion, because you don’t have to pay for it (free publicity is always a plus!) Again, my article was written to inform, not to slander.

The gallery can use the representation of your works in future promotional materials that have nothing to do with the show that your work is in. You will not be paid for this, either.‘ – Otherwise Rezzable could not even show off posters of the past show without having to repay the artist? Sure you never saw this one appear in real life artist agreements?

Actually, I have. Again, this is within the Cannery’s rights as a gallery, and I highly recommend this to my fellow artists because, again, it’s free publicity.

I’d like to take a moment to apologize if my previous article had a hostile or angry tone to it. That was not my intention, and my goal was to make it as constructive as humanly possible for the benefit of both the Cannery and any artists who would consider showing their works there. That’s fine if you don’t agree with me– in fact, if you do disagree, I can only assume that you actually read through the agreement and compared your own assessment with my own, which is what I was trying to encourage in the first place.

To conclude, I only have one thing to say to the Cannery: Rezz on, my brothers, rezz on.


    One comment

    1. I think if this ‘clarification’ would have been included in the original article, it would have been a way more constructive ‘breakdown’ of an artist agreement in general. You focus on the bad uses of all things there, and here you make clear that all those ‘questionable’ includings in the artist agreement can have positive effects too. For both the gallery owner as the artist.

      I’m sorry if I misinterpreted the part about real life, it read to me that way. (Put yourself in my place, and just read your first article again. It does feel like an ‘You Are Being Very Unfair To Your Artist And Are Ripping Them Off’, and as curators, me and Sho made them agree to this artists agreements, so I did feel this was personally aimed at us.)

      As for the merchandise, it was clearly said to the artists in IM, Flickr mail, … when solliciting them for the show, that they would get a share of all sales, not only the artwork.

      And for the book: it is our first show, we were still experimenting with what we would and would not do. The book was a great idea from Shoshana and I think it turned out great, yet was not planned at the ‘very very beginning of planning’ of the show. 😉

      Overall, though, it would be nice if the artists would supply some more feedback themselves. For instance, is they don’t like the artist agreement, or think it is ‘dubious’ they should tell so.

      If they have kick ass ideas for promotion, marketing, … contact us. A fine example of this is Mr. Savon, who did a way better setup of his pictures (and a very ‘Collin Savon’ branded one) then I could have ever done.

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