Visual artists had a big victory today at the Supreme Court in the fight for minimum artist fees at the National Gallery of Canada. In a unanimous decision from the bench, the court allowed an appeal on behalf of artist restoring an earlier decision that found in their favour.
At issue was a perceived conflict between the Status of the Artist Act and the Copyright Act. The associations that represent artists, CARFAC and RAAV, had been trying to negotiate binding minimum fees for the payment of artists at the gallery, similar to a minimum wage. The gallery essentially argued CARFAC and RAAV, were taking away the right of artists to be paid less if they chose. In allowing the appeal, the court rejected this argument and, in an unusual move, ruled immediately after oral arguments.
Artists from across Canada in attendance were delighted with the results. “It’s a good day for artists,” said Grant McConnell, president of CARFAC. “This is a major victory for all artists in Canada and Quebec.”