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Re: LEGAL DEPOSIT OF BOOKS



Thank you to everyone responding to this. To answer a few questions --
Richard Miller describes a very similar situation to the one which
pertains here. In South Africa legal deposit is not linked to
copyright. The intention of the law is to preserve "cultural
heritage", but in this case, only "printed matter". (A new law will
soon include video and CD material).

We started a small private press and the first book we produced in an
edition of 50 was claimed by the SA Library. We were making other
books in smaller editions (10) and didn't want to set a precedent --
no other artists book had ever been claimed in South Africa. We
asserted that the book was an art work and that the law had never
intended to claim artworks. The library sued me and after 4 days in
court the magistrate found that the book was indeed an artwork and
the library could not have it. The library appealed and the Supreme
Court Judges overturned the first decision, deciding that books could
not be artworks if there was more than one. They agreed with the
library's weird reasoning that the copper plates (there were a lot of
etchings in the book) were the original artworks and that the books
themselves were reproductions.

We then appealed this (after dozens of artists got together to
auction work to raise the money, by now a fortune). The Supreme court
of appeal ruled that the book was, in fact, an artwork, but that the
law did not distinguish between regular books and artists books. So
we have had to hand over the book. In the meantime, we now have a
very liberal new constitution. We are protected in a bill of rights
from having our property taken away from us without market-value
compensation. And since the library is now demanding other artists
books, we are trying to decide whether to proceed further on
constitutional grounds.

Many artists who have been traditionally discriminated against in
terms of access to education and facilities under apartheid, work in
printmaking media and make small editions of books at great personal
cost. Students are also reluctant to spend a year producing a body of
work which might, when they graduate and exhibit be taken away from
them by the library. All your responses are a great help to us in
deciding how to proceed.

thanks
Pippa


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