Feels like beating a dead horse that just won't stay down. I'm not sure if this should be added to some of our other materials on the subject but I thought it was worth thinking about so here it is.
I was looking for information for RobA concerning how Muralist artists deal with copyright and while I didn't find exactly what I was looking for I came across some interesting stuff regarding copyright and how it can effect the Artist later in life. This is from a Canadian perspective I believe but it seems to me that doesn't matter because in the digital world there are no borders.
The website with article, along with International pricing tables, is here.
100k may sound like a lot but that's probably because we tend to think small scale. However, if you became famous you would forever be seeing these early works of yours going for cheap and folks snatching them up just to say they owned a genuine so-and-so piece. Imagine, "It's from his early years and I only paid 20 bucks for this." Not a penny of which went to you.When approached about your copyrights, it is wisest to think in terms of licensing them rather than selling them. An artist should never forfeit his copyrights (as opposed to Moral Rights) without being separately and well compensated. When an artist finally reaches the point of relative success, often late in life, he seldom owns much of his own work and must compete in selling it with those who purchased earlier works at much lower prices. His earlier works can actually adversely haunt him years later. He still has to methodically paint each piece and wait for it to be sold albeit at a higher price, in order to be paid. His only real advantage for himself and his heirs at this time may be his ownership of the copyrights on his whole body of works.
Your copyrights are actually more valuable than a patent to an inventor and this is why you should relinquish it to no one.
Within the context of what copyrights are intended to do, no one else really needs to own your copyrights, they can license them and you can still make money off them that way. Everything can be achieved by license without forfeiting ownership.
Remember, even if you're promised great things and high commissions in trade for your copyright, if there's failure to follow through, that copyright is lost forever to you. It is just as easy and far safer to license the copyrights for a certain project or time period and still retain ownership of it for yourself and your heirs. For this reason every artist should have an automatic minimum $100,000 price tag on the actual ownership of each copyright as a starting price for bargaining. This may even be too cheap in the long term.
I'm sure most of us will never get to this point of success and some may not care to, but I believe it's this sort of ignorance that leads to artists dieing as paupers while at the same time their works are being sold in galleries around the world. The injustice of that really irks me. I am a trusting person and prefer to conduct myself honestly in everything that I do but the world I live in tends to not be the same. This whole copyright thing becomes a bit of a nightmare for me because I have to step back, remove myself from the situation, and look at it from a business standpoint. Unless I really just don't get this, there just isn't any reason for someone or some company to own my copyrights. Not without what seems a ridiculous amount of payment anyway.
Truthfully, at my age I'm unlikely to make it huge in the art world but that doesn't mean there isn't some 12 year old on here right now who would be helped by starting his life's career out on the right foot. We (the artists of today) should consider it a responsibility to help future artists protect themselves so they and their families can be rewarded for what they add to the world. The Companies of today are not all bad but they are running a business and they want art for as close to free as possible because it effects their bottom line. If they can get the copyright then they can use it forever in any way they wish and every dime goes to them. I also think most people who become famous never really see it coming. They just do what they love. So this copyright nightmare could sneak up on you if you fail to plan for it.
This all is in line with the information on Copyright in our Tutorial's section it just kind of brought it home for me.