Copyrights


Hi. I am pretty new to illustration and wanted a little bit if advice in a project I am taking on. I am in talk with a wedding planner about illustrating a colouring book. They have made up the characters and the story behind it and i am to draw the ideas and make the illustrations. They are now talking about copyrights in case someone tried to copy the product. They are wanting to know if I can sign over my copyrights of the illustrations. I am just wondering if this is the right thing to do. They said it is so that if there is a case they can fight it without involving me
If I do should I be charging them if so what price range and do I put any terms in? They have said that I can use the images to promote my work and are giving me credit on the book. I don't think that it is going to be a big product with mass buyers. I am not even sure if i am charging enough to start with. I have been selling my own one of family portraits and this is my first venture with a business. I know I will learn from my mistakes but any advise would be welcomed if you have a spare few minutes.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
To be completely honest I'd be a little dubious of that as I'm smelling a rat here.

Why would they need the rights?
To fight your corner if someone copied it?
How would that benefit you exactly?

The illustrator ALWAYS retains the rights unless you sign them over.
Usually, an Illustrator works their fees out based on 'usage' which in a kind of way means they rent the use off you for a certain amount of time, for a specific use and in a certain territory.
This means that say you charge them £500 for the book illustrations but then they want to make t-shirts then you can charge them again at what you consider is a fair cost.
They want to use them in a promo video....you charge them again and so on.

If they own the rights then they can do what they like without considering or paying you.
They can even sell them on if they like.

You can charge what you like for the rights but it's usually a hell of a lot more than for a single use.

Still sounds a bit sketchy to me though and I'd be really wondering why they want them.
 

Wardy

Well-Known Member
It's entirely up to you if you want to sell your copyright, but don't do it cheaply, specially as it sounds like you've not charged enough in the first place.
Charge them at least another 100%, some would say more. It sounds like they might want to use the work on other products maybe, so be careful what
you're giving away.

This might be useful:
 
T
It's entirely up to you if you want to sell your copyright, but don't do it cheaply, specially as it sounds like you've not charged enough in the first place.
Charge them at least another 100%, some would say more. It sounds like they might want to use the work on other products maybe, so be careful what
you're giving away.

This might be useful:
Thank you!
 
To be completely honest I'd be a little dubious of that as I'm smelling a rat here.

Why would they need the rights?
To fight your corner if someone copied it?
How would that benefit you exactly?

The illustrator ALWAYS retains the rights unless you sign them over.
Usually, an Illustrator works their fees out based on 'usage' which in a kind of way means they rent the use off you for a certain amount of time, for a specific use and in a certain territory.
This means that say you charge them £500 for the book illustrations but then they want to make t-shirts then you can charge them again at what you consider is a fair cost.
They want to use them in a promo video....you charge them again and so on.

If they own the rights then they can do what they like without considering or paying you.
They can even sell them on if they like.

You can charge what you like for the rights but it's usually a hell of a lot more than for a single use.

Still sounds a bit sketchy to me though and I'd be really wondering why they want them.
Yes I was thinking along the same lines, but they were making it sound like they are doing me a favour by taking the rights over. Thanks for your help
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
Yes I was thinking along the same lines, but they were making it sound like they are doing me a favour by taking the rights over. Thanks for your help
Would you give someone you don't know that well your bank card and pin no for them to fetch you a can of pop?

You may think I'm sounding a little over-reactionary here but I've heard of many people getting screwed over this way.
Many Illustrators, especially at the beginning of their career are way to ready to roll over for a paying client but if you're wanting to do this professionally then you are setting off on a very bad foot.

Don't get me wrong, I often give a client the rights if it makes sense to do so.

It's more about what you've said that sets alarm bells ringing a little and makes me question their motives.
On smallish jobs and even many of the big ones the copyright thing never usually gets brought up as it goes without saying so I'm wondering why they have.

This kind of makes me ask why and what for.
They're not doing you a favour. They're taking all the rights to your work.

Sometimes what you sign away can have bigger implications, for example:

I worked at a greetings and gift company as a Designer/Illustrator and one day they brought in a new contract and told us to sign them.
I read though it and they'd added a "rights and inventions clause".
It basically said they they owned everything I did for them at work (fair enough) and also everything I did in my own time away from work.
Every design, illustration or even invention that I made anywhere and at any time.

I questioned this as I had started doing some freelance on the side that they knew about and they said "we'd never enforce that" but they refused to amend the contract so I didn't sign it.
Later on, things took a sour turn at the company and we parted company so I was very glad I didn't sign away my rights.

If I were you and you don't want to risk offend anyone I'd just tell them you're fine retaining the rights as it would be fairly easy to defend them against copyright theft or tell them that they can buy the rights if they'd like too at your price.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
God! No worries Michelle. :D

They don't teach this stuff in college or uni but it almost as important as drawing and can be the difference between making a living and not or being exploited or not.

There is a lot of info out there and I think there may be some stuff on Hire An Illustrator.

It's probably all innocent and well meant but I can't help feeling suspicious from what you've said.

From the look of your profile pic you have a really good and commercial style and could do very well so it's best to start as you mean to go on.
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
I'm assuming here that the 'client' knows exactly what the copyright to your work is worth and they want it for a pittance, so this is a 'worst case scenario' kind of overview based on experience of meeting such people:

They are wanting to know if I can sign over my copyrights of the illustrations. I am just wondering if this is the right thing to do.
Do not blindly hand over the rights. If they want full copyright to your work, they need to buy the rights from you.

They said it is so that if there is a case they can fight it without involving me
This is bullshit, they want to own 100% of the work, meaning no potential future royalties for you. They're probably hoping the book will take off, maybe even eventually be turned into a kids TV show, with merchandise! It's highly unlikely, but if that does happen, you won't be entitled to a penny.

They have said that I can use the images to promote my work and are giving me credit on the book.
Unless this is written into a formal contract, if they own the rights to your work, they can prevent you from doing anything with it. They can even ask you to remove it from your portfolio. And your name in a book is not worth as much as they probably want you to believe, especially if it's self published via a print-on-demand company.

I don't think that it is going to be a big product with mass buyers.
Regardless of scope, keep the rights to your work. If they really want it, they'll either pay for it, or find another illustrator who will hand over the rights. If they do want to go with another artist, le them go, they want a deal that favours them and you're better off out of it.

I am not even sure if i am charging enough to start with.
Sadly this is something you'll have to figure out yourself in time. There's a lot of factors to consider, not just time you spend on a job, but the value of it to the client. Let's say you spend 3 hours sketching a character, but if that character is going to be turned into the main star of an animated kids TV show, then you certainly wouldn't charge for just 3 hours of your time. That character is worth a lot more to the client in the long run.

The best advice I can give you is to find the right kind of client, be it a publishing house who needs a childrens animator, or a commissioner of editorial illustrations, or even just having an agent who can find you work. Basically find businesses with money who can afford your services. Design and illustration is not a consumer service.
 
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scotty

Moderator
Staff member
This is bullshit, they want to own 100% of the work, meaning no potential future royalties for you. They're probably hoping the book will take off, maybe even eventually be turned into a kids TV show, with merchandise! It's highly unlikely, but if that does happen, you won't be entitled to a penny.
I was trying to say what Paul said in a roundabout way but I think Paul nailed it there! :D
 

Paul Murray

Moderator
Staff member
I want to give the client the benefit of the doubt, but I've met too many people who just expected me to give them the rights to use my work for nothing. 99% of the time, they won't do anything with it, but that 1% is the minority you want to protect yourself from.
 

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
I think it's usually best to be clear from the off and it's why I'm considering drawing up some T&C's though I've never really had any issues with clients.
 
I'm assuming here that the 'client' knows exactly what the copyright to your work is worth and they want it for a pittance, so this is a 'worst case scenario' kind of overview based on experience of meeting such people:


Do not blindly hand over the rights. If they want full copyright to your work, they need to buy the rights from you.


This is bullshit, they want to own 100% of the work, meaning no potential future royalties for you. They're probably hoping the book will take off, maybe even eventually be turned into a kids TV show, with merchandise! It's highly unlikely, but if that does happen, you won't be entitled to a penny.


Unless this is written into a formal contract, if they own the rights to your work, they can prevent you from doing anything with it. They can even ask you to remove it from your portfolio. And your name is a book is not worth as much as they probably want you to believe, especialli if it's self published via a print-on-demand company.


Regardless of scope, keep the rights to your work. If they really want it, they'll either pay for it, or find another illustrator who will hand over the rights. If they do want to go with another artist, le them go, they want a deal that favours them and you're better of out of it.


Sadly this is something you'll have to figure out yourself in time. There's a lot of factors to consider, not just time you spend on a job, but the value of it to the client. Let's say you might 3 hours sketching a character, but if that character is going to be turned into the main star of an animated kids TV show, then you certainly wouldn't charge for just 3 hours of your time. That character is worth a lot more to the client in the long run.

The best advice I can give you is to find the right kind of client, be it a publishing house who needs a childrens animator, or a commissioner of editorial illustrations, or even just having an agent who can find you work. Basically find businesses with money who can afford your services. Design and illustration is not a consumer service.
Thanks for this, I'm glad that I found this forum!
 
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