Please, I beg of you, think before you type. This thread will blossom if you do.
As an independent minded community of artists seeking to create the worlds of others and at the same time, build our own personal dreams, there are some things we must keep in mind.
Ownership and granting rights fairly:
1. The rights to our work are ours alone, unless sold or granted in explicit written contract, binding in either your or the buyers jurisdiction (where you or they are legally based). The latter binds both parties to the deal. Research your field to see how rights are handled industry wide. Illustrators retaining print rights and original artwork, for example...while a game artist doing work for a company gives that up.
Unfortunately this first and foremost right of intellectual property ownership is under assail at the government level for the clear purpose of enriching corporations. The pending Orphan Bill enables others to take that which we own, the rights to our work. You see, your rights, which you own, are being granted to others, or in the process of anyway. It is my opinion that the Orphan Bill will pass. The leading art communities, artist organizations and over a hundred thousand artists have put up the fight. It is not over yet...
This is one example of what the corporate side of the fence will do to get what they want from the creatives they cannot do without. Google the Orphan Bill and decide for yourself. However, those that have legal counsel will be able to gain back proceeds for rights used by others without your permission. For those that do not know. You are looking at 100,000-300,000 or more U.S. dollars to have great attorneys fight pretty much any lawsuit against a party who does not want you to win, even just a small fight.
a.) You can grant partial rights (right of first printing run only, by the print run--for example).
b.) You can sell your rights outright (work for hire agreement--entertainment industry specific...or employee based).
c.) You can license your rights (like Marvel does with it's movies/games/toys, or Mike M. did with Hellboy film rights). These rights can be granted per industry, per use, or even perpetually to any party or group of parties. If only some rights are granted perpetually you would have a partnership of sorts, in that I.P., unless they bought all rights from you and you became an employee. Say that with one breath...phew. Ya follow?
d.) You can grant those rights for usage promotionally (allowing usage in the magazines if they want to do an interview with you for example).
e.) You have to sometimes fight for your rights. Keeping your art organized by date and type will help you later, should you ever need. Keep record of your work in case you need to fight later.
2. Your work is what creates your independence. Personal work is what you create your own value with. Never sign agreements that state any work you do outside the workplace is owned by your employer. This clause can be negotiated out if you explain that your work is why you are being hired and is what keeps your skill sharp..and that if they want those rights it would be another fee...and that you are happy to consider it. This will usually get them to take that crap out of the document.
3. Get and use an NDA when showing any of your personal work to prospective clients or business partners. Using a mutual non disclosure agreement before beginning any business matters is an absolute fundamental when it comes to you being able to protect your ideas and rights. Businesses and individuals work this way. Non-disclosure agreements are standard company business documents. Be sure all pertinent categories are spelled out. If you are sharing an invention that will change the internet, list the words: internet technology, source code, plans, diagrams, software, hardware etc...If you are sharing a new comic book world with a publisher, list concept art, storylines, characters, and intellectual property as the topics for being discussed. Find an NDA online and you will see where this goes. Is usually near the top. This agreement keeps others from stealing your ideas...or leaking them to others who can.
....feel free to add to the list if you so desire and have good things to share.