Freelance ? licensing the rights to your work
 
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    Freelance ? licensing the rights to your work

    Okay so in my freelance work I have been selling the illustrations/ artwork and all the rights as part of the contract.

    Recently I read that you could make more money if you sell only one of the rights to the artwork, specifying where and for how long they can use the artwork.

    This would allow me to resell the rights of the artwork down the road. My question is how would I do this?

    In the same article they mentioned putting in the contract that the client has to return all artwork when the time is up. How does this work with digital files?

    So I guess what I am really asking is I do a job, now what do I give the client? How do I make sure they don't misuse my artwork? So that I can just sell this single right for a limited time?

    Thanks in advance for all replies.

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    I think your best option right off the bat would be to talk with a lawyer and have a contract written up that allows you to maintain rights to your work. It will also vary depending on the type of job. Most companies who want things such as logos would obviously demand to keep the rights to that image due to their investment in both the design and the subsequent branding of their products/services.
    Now on the other hand if someone contacts you about a piece of work you have in your portfolio and they want to use the image and license it, then you would want to use the contract you had your lawyer draw up. This would outline such things as how long the licensing is for and upon expiration whether or not the company can renew the license without renegotiating their terms.
    I would honestly spend a little money and talk with a lawyer who deals with intellectual property and if you can find one who specializes in working with artists, all the better.

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    Brian; How much are we talking for the lawyer, and is it worth it (especially for smaller jobs)? When it comes to specific licensing I have always just specified it in "Area covered by licence" and "Duration of licence" in an acceptance of commission form.

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    Thanks Brian,

    I have had a lawyer draft up a contract just like that. I was more asking about how to handle the artwork/ files.

    Burl,
    In my opinion it is worth it to hire a lawyer to create an ironclad contract template for you. It saves you money in the long run.

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    You negotiate with the client as you would for any other piece of work, the difference being the work already exists. Once the contract is signed then there's no special way of getting them to comply with the license any more than there is normally.

    I always draw up private commission / rights contracts myself, which has the advantage of being fast, cheap, and more importantly they are comprehensible to both parties. I've only done a handful of private commissions and assignments of rights but so far every contract has been different. The more rights the client needs, the more they pay.

    Conversely I have commercial contracts that are completely impenetrable, pages and pages of legalese that even the clients don't understand. You can live with this for commercial work with established companies, as you know the contract is standard and you either accept the work or you don't, but the last thing you want if you're managing your own rights is not to have a full understanding of your contracts as you could quickly find yourself in big trouble.

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    Tristan Elwell
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    Thanks for the link Elwell!!

    I have already checked it out. It has some great forms and has a part where it specifies the limits of the works license.

    Funny thing is there is another part in the contract that specifies when the artwork needs to be returned to the illustrator and how. My guess is that this was written before computer files were what was delivered to the client?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOELB View Post
    Funny thing is there is another part in the contract that specifies when the artwork needs to be returned to the illustrator and how. My guess is that this was written before computer files were what was delivered to the client?
    Yes, exactly. That has become pretty much a non-issue in the past few years, as even traditional illustrators almost always provide a file instead of the physical artwork.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Thanks Elwell!!

    I just wish there was a better way than a contract to control the proliferation of my artwork. Computer files are so easy to copy, use, and pass on.

    It would great if there was a way to make sure that a client wouldn't use your artwork beyond when the contract stipulated.

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    You can register your work with the copyright office. Any use of it beyond the terms of the contract is infringement, and if the piece is registered you can threaten them with punitive damages. http://copyright.gov


    Tristan Elwell
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    You know I never thought about it much until now. But with scanners, hd digital cameras, copy machines, etc. even if you went old school and gave the client a painting to use and then got it back so they couldn't continue using it, it doesn't mean they wouldn't have copied it and just continue using it.

    The only protection we have for keeping control of our art is to copyright it and use solid contracts.

    Also I have heard that you can time expire files so that after a certain date the file can't be used.

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