Sat, Feb 24, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Artlib leveraged subsidies to con artists: legislator

CHEATING CULTURE:The Ministry of Culture said the Web site applied for several subsidies to publish a book, which bears the ministry’s logo without authorization

By Cheng Hung-ta  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen, back row center sitting at table, listens during a news conference jointly held with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Web site has swindled artists into signing contracts that would grant it the copyright to their works, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said yesterday.

From 2011 to 2016, Artlib applied for subsidies for a number of art projects, including a book called Taiwan’s Emerging Artists, from the then-Council for Cultural Affairs, which became the Ministry of Culture in 2012, he said.

The Web site used government sponsorship to increase its credibility and signed unfair contracts with many artists, which gave it permanent copyright ownership over works they have and would produce throughout their lives, Chen said.

In addition, the contracts require that artists give the Web site 40 percent of their income from sales of their works, he said.

Only Artlib holds the contracts, and artists who have signed such contracts include veteran and student artists, he added.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said in a statement that his team has never been involved in Artlib’s Taiwan’s Emerging Artists project.

While it did help Artlib apply for subsidies from the ministry, he was angry and sad to learn about the allegations, the statement said.

The ministry said it would form a special task force to investigate the allegations and set up mechanisms for victim reporting and follow-ups; prepare evidence for judicial investigations; provide legal counseling to artists; and improve regulations on art agents.

In 2011, Artlib applied for and received NT$1 million (US$34,123 at the current exchange rate) in subsidies to create an e-book on Taiwanese artists, the ministry said.

Last year, the ministry received reports that Artlib had been signing contracts that breached artists’ rights, it said.

The ministry has since August last year twice asked Artlib to provide the contracts with artists, but both requests were refused, it added.

From 2015 to 2016, Artlib applied for and received a total of NT$450,000 in subsidies from the ministry under the name Jinjiangtang Cultural Foundation (錦江堂文教基金會) to publish Taiwan’s Emerging Artists, the ministry said.

The published book bears the ministry’s logo on the front and back covers, even though its use was not approved, it said.

The ministry would continue to investigate the case and work with other agencies to help artists through the judicial process to protect their rights, it added.

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