View Full Version : Licensing Art - Copy vs. Reproduction rights

01-12-2011, 04:42 AM
Ok, so the more I get into this and the more I read the request forum entries, the more I wonder what the heck is going on?

I just came across this How to License your art (http://www.porterfieldsfineart.com/howtolicenseyourart.htm) in which it says to NEVER give up your copyright. And yet, in our Request Forum more often than not requesters are saying they will retain rights to the copyright. I am left wondering if what they really mean is they want reproduction rights and are calling that Copyright because they themselves are also confused. Additionally, according to what that link says your contract for reproduction rights should not be eternal but rather set for specified number of years.

I know those of us who wish to sell our artwork don't want to make a fuss for fear of never selling anything but it seems to me there are certain rights an artist should have and there is a lot of confusion. I imagine most artists are not real savvy about such things and just want to get back to making art. I know that fits me.

Anyway, there it is for discussion.

01-12-2011, 08:12 AM
I never give up my copyright - and that is also what I preach in this (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11215) post :)

but I also think you're right - a lot of clients don't know left from right when it comes to this and they want to make sure they can do what they want with the art.
Its also very important to differ between professionel use and private use.. .the prices should be different for one - cause the professionel use it supposed to make the client money after. :)

01-12-2011, 08:22 AM
Thanks Jax, that's a very helpful link!

01-12-2011, 12:04 PM
Its also very important to differ between professionel use and private use.. .the prices should be different for one - cause the professionel use it supposed to make the client money after. :)

That's an important point right there.

01-12-2011, 12:12 PM
I don't think I'd say "never" anything. There are times when selling a copyright makes sense, and others where it would just be foolish.

"Work for hire" is a common arrangement where the client retains copyright as a stipulation of the work being done. This is a reasonable expectation if the client expects to maintain the value of their product for a long period of time. You don't publish, for instance, a campaign world for an RPG without some expectation that you'll be able to continue to exploit that IP for years to come. If your world map is only licensed to you, you run the risk of being unable to renew the license later on, weakening an entire product line.

Another example would be the maps created for The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. No studio would permit a single artist to have the power to put a halt to distribution because of an expired license. Daniel Reeve almost certainly created the maps (as well as all the ancillary artwork he did for games, DVDs, etc) in a work for hire arrangement, where New Line retains copyright. That isn't to say that he might not have had other concessions in his contract (royalties, most likely), but he almost certainly does not have the ability to publish his own prints of the maps in competition with the official movie merchandise.

If you are asked to transfer copyright, make sure you get something in return. Whether that's a royalty, a bigger fee, or some other concession is between you and your client. But get something; that copyright is a very big bargaining chip.

01-12-2011, 12:34 PM
That site has some other points that seemed useful if you go poke around. A couple things I thought worth mentioning were more along what Midgardsormr brings out. There are times, such as cover art for a book based on a character where it's not like you can do anything else with it that you might sell all rights. A work for hire means it is the same as working for a company that provides you with a salary? They own everything you do while you are working for them.

It also brought out how important to it is to read and understand every line in the contract. You could sell the Reproduction rights forever (instead of a limited number of years) in which case you might own a copyright that is worthless because you can't do anything with it.

Speaking of royalties, anyone have any decent information on those? It's not like I have ever received a royalty in my life much less in my current day job :)

Edit: Thanks for cross linking that tilt.