White flag? We don't think about it - Hurricane Siae brings the entire art system to its knees

AW ArtMag won the case. But the damage to the entire industry has already been massive. A Caporetto in terms of cultural dissemination, freedom of information and advertising revenue

Forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. The claims of the Italian Society authors and publishers of the payment of reproduction rights for images of works of their members in support of journalistic services have come down with the destructive force of a hurricane on the entire sector of the artistic system. With the good result that the press (from newspapers to specialized magazines) necessarily finds itself censoring the Siae artists; public and private galleries, as a result, increasingly divert attention and resources to authors free from this constraint; the press offices are powerless to see their communication efforts rejected. An example among many: to accompany the review of the current exhibition of Giorgio Morandi at Palazzo Reale in Milan, a single photograph is free. As if the restriction were not already a damage at the expense of an accurate cultural dissemination, it is however necessary to request permission to use the image even if it is free. The answer comes on average after 15, 30 days - times absolutely incompatible with the need to make information and current events coincide. Put, then, that you decide equally to proceed with such a ridiculous and incomplete service, in which you comment what readers can not see, and you publish it before receiving written consent - so much so, they have already announced the free use of that skimpy little artwork. Don’t trust. Here is the longa manus of the indefatigable employee, immediately ready to impose penalties and increases for having left before having received the due approval. Conclusion? No photo, no article.

Dear artists, the time has come to open your eyes: the body that should protect you is the first to remove your visibility. For what you damned to paint and carve from morning till night, for what you have sacrificed, you have tightened your belt in the dark periods, if not to show your works, in the hope they met the favor of gallerists, critics, directors of newspapers and museums, collectors? Make two counts, check if the miserable percentage that the Siae reserves for reproduction rights is worth the oblivion to which condemns you. For our part, with AW ArtMag, we have been fighting for two years now to ensure that the monopolistic body, whose rules - it must be reiterated loudly - are not laws of  the State, really starts to safeguard the interests of authors and publishers. We did this with the publication of the Black number (an edition in which in protest reproductions subjected to rights are obscured). We did so by addressing Riccardo Nencini, then President of the Senate Culture Committee, who tabled a parliamentary question. And we did this by opposing the precept received by the Siae, which required payment for photographs that appeared in advertising. With the decision of the court of Lucca dated November 26th, 2023, assisted by the lawyer Leonardo Dell’Innocenti and Dr Rossella Bruno, a scholar of copyright legislation, we won the case. A first step - very important - that will be part of the legal literature. Some considerations on the sidelines. At least an extravagant initiative on the part of the Siae if, after a long and often offensive correspondence with which it advanced nebulous and never quantified “payment proposals” against reproductions inserted in articles, it has sued us for the ads. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know whether the same treatment was also applied to all the other publications, both sectoral and not, which presented what the attaché called “infringement”. A further extravagance is the response to the sentence announced to the four winds, but not directly to us, an appeal of which, to date, we have not received any communication. In the meantime, the institution, that should also protect publishers, has caused a serious and subtle damage: a sharp drop in advertising. A periodical publication, unless it enjoys state, political or philanthropic subsidies, unless it has a popular cut that can count on revenues from newsstands, lives thanks to sponsorship by advertisers. And these, suddenly targeted by the Siae with further, until recently unheard of requests for disbursement of money, understandably, give up advertising their activities. Not only on AW ArtMag. You just have to browse the magazines of the sector to take note of it sadly. Such a dizzying drop in advertising, and therefore in resources, that forces to close. Five magazines of Editoriale Giorgio Mondadori will disappear from March. We are in Caporetto as regards cultural dissemination and freedom of information. But we are not going to raise a white flag.

The Author

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Nella sua geografia dell’anima ha Venezia, la città natale, nel cuore e la Versilia eletta a buen retiro. Quando nell’adolescenza le chiedevano che cosa avrebbe desiderato fare da grande, rispondeva sicura: viaggiare e scrivere. Così, per raggiungere lo scopo, si è messa a studiare lingue prima, lettere poi.  E sono oltre 30 anni che pubblica romanzi, saggi, scrive articoli, gira per il mondo. Ci sono tre cose - dice - di cui non può fare a meno: il mare, la scrittura, il caffè. Ah: è il direttore responsabile di AW ArtMag.

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