Art: Legality and copyright help.
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Thread: Legality and copyright help.

  1. #1
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    Legality and copyright help.

    Hi,
    For the past two years I have been paying a local artist roughly $62 a week (about $3200 a year) to produce sketches and paintings for myself directly related to a video game I wish to eventually produce. Stupidly, it has been off the book and no contract was drawn up.

    I was wondering if anyone knows the legalities of my situation in regards to who actually owns the copyright on the work.

    I asked the artist recently to sign a copyright transfer agreement but he refused and is asking for $5000 to transfer full ownership to myself for work created in the last two years and any work created this year.

    In this time he has produced:
    1 complete oil painting (~a4)
    1 complete rough oil painting (~a5)
    7 incomplete oil paintings (~a4)
    1 incomplete oil painting (~a5)
    2 incomplete oil paintings (~ a3)
    ~ 80 a4 sketches (variations and working till final).

    I only make about $11,000 AUD a year as I'm a student and I'm beginning to feel boxed in, as if the artist is in charge.

    I was young and stupid when I originally entered into business with this man and I believe him to be trustworthy but having said that, I can't say I know him THAT well.

    I fell it is time to cut myself loose but am worried about what might happen.

    The artist has some copies of the work he has done but not all and I want to know whether he is legally allowed to sell and make copies of these works or if he is entitled to use my ideas in his own working.

    Should I negotiate with him on a buyout price or just take what I have and leave?

    Any info greatly appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    I would cut my losses and walk away keep what you have and use it for your idea.

    I don't know about Australia specifically but in the USA a verbal agreement is usually a binding contract if you can prove it with supporting correspondance. The problem is even if you get a court to agree with you what have you won? Just move on and don't make the same mistakes again. If you learn that lesson for a couple of grand it was worth it.

    My guess is you have the right to use the images for your video game project and its support (marketing,advertising) beyond that lack of a contract probably allows him some use for his own promotion. Everything depends on the descriptions provided by you and the work he added to them in his art.
    In other words if you said make me some creatures and he came up with the designs you don't have as strong of a case as if you had detailed character descriptions and he rendered them to your exact specifications.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I would cut my losses and walk away keep what you have and use it for your idea.
    Thank you . That gives me a better idea as to what to do.

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