Folksy Ltd

Commissions and copyright

Hello
Looking for a bit of help on commissions from anyone who’s been there and done that.
I recently had a customer ask me to do a commission (my first) however I lost the sale because I wasn’t willing to sell the copyright for the piece. I really liked the photo she sent so I first offered a low price if I could also make and sell prints from the piece. When she didn’t like the idea of that I increased the price and offered what I called “exclusivity” in that I wouldn’t make any copies but also wouldn’t allow her to reproduce or use the image comercially - which is what I understand she would be able to do if I included the copyright in the sale?? In the end she never replied.
Have any of you had any similar problems? Do you include or keep copyrights? Or have I just understood the concept wrong and made a big fuss out of nothing!?
Thanks :slight_smile:
Catherine

Keep and protect your copyrights. Why should you create art for others to reproduce and sell unless you were getting a contracted & guaranteed %? Sounds like she clearly wanted the rights to reproduce. No thanks!

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Thanks, I was doubting myself when I lost out on the sale but good to know I made the right decision

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Just coming from another angle I would question who actually had copywrite in this instance.
If she had a picture/photo that she wanted copying, and she had taken the picture herself then all she is employing you to do is create a copy of her picture. I would guess that therefore she would have the right to make copys.
It’s a muddy and expensive area to explore and you probably did the right thing in walking away.

We took legal advice last year over a copying of one of our registered designs that we sell lots of. For 450 pounds we found out that we could have a case and it would cost several thousand to find out for sure and the copyist probably would have no money to pay damages at the end of it all :persevere:

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I am not an artist but I will pass on what I read many years ago - when you display your artwork for sale always have it slightly skewed, or with another article crossing the corner, or otherwise making it difficult for someone to download or photograph your picture on screen. That way your copyright is better protected from theft. Or you could make a watermark somewhere. Hope this helps, peeps!

2 Likes

I have the copyright for all my designs…my bear making kits have full copyright protection in that the patterns may not be reproduced and the finished bears may not be sold. I spent 3 months designing and making my first kit, weeks of rewriting, redrawing and remaking, I also had a friend and ex newspaper writer proof read, rewrite etc and a lady from FB made up the kit all before it was released for sale so my copyright is pretty strict but I learnt to design by making and remaking for years so why should someone come along and take all my ideas and hard work and call it their own. Stick to your guns your designs are your hard work I wouldn’t pass on the copyright to anyone. A
designer/artist has automatic copyright on their products. :blush:
Just re reading and I am also uncertain who’s copyright the photo was as Dosrodgerspottery explained above. The customer has the copyright to the picture as she took it but you would have the copyright to the finished work you did from the picture…I think this is slightly more complicated than the copyright in my kits as they are my design. She possibly didn’t come back to you as the price changed for the item but I still say never sell the copyright on. You will have more commissions :blush:

The intellectual Property Office are always very helpful about Copyright and Design Right.

There is quite a lot of information on-line but they are also very good if you phone them for advice.

where you will find the basics.

If someone commissions you to create an artistic work, then in the UK the creator owns the copyright since 1988 when there were changes to UK Copyright laws, unless otherwise agreed.

The law changed about Design commissions a few years ago so that although Design Right does not last as long as Copyright, if a customer commissions a design then the design right now belongs to the creator, unless otherwise agreed. 2014 publication link attached

There is an overlap between artistic works, works of artistic craftsmanship and design which can get quite complicated.

Artist Newsletter may also have useful articles or links on their website www.a-n.co.uk

Re: the photo: was it the client’s photo or a photo taken by someone else that the client wanted to use?

If in doubt ask a lawyer. A lot of insurance policies include a free legal advice phone help line in their policies.

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Hi and Thank you for taking the time to send the links, I will have another look however

I did look into all the copyright before I finished my kits to make sure I worded it correct and to check my rights as the artist so i know I hold the full rights to my work.

The whole copyright belongs to me as the designer of the kit, the patterns and instructions. The creator of the kit cannot use my pattern for commercial gain, they cannot sell any bears they make from my patterns/kits and cannot reproduce the patterns unless for their own personal use…so they can use the pattern again but only for personal use.

This is the how most artists use copyright on kits.

Some do state you can use the patterns and make say 10 a year to sell others say not.

I was not prepared to let 3 months of work be copied by someone who could then use my design, my work and time to make financial gain, a few local ladies bought my kits and they also do local craft fairs so I was not prepared to let them sell my design as a finished product on their stalls, I have spent years making and remaking bears until I am happy with their look , drawing and redrawing pattern pieces so I aim to keep full rights to them.

As an artist you own the design anyway but with a kit you need to make sure the copyright is printed on it as to what can and can’t be done with it

I see a lot of Tilda dolls and bunnies online for sale that are remarkabely like the ones from the Tilda books (I have the books…lots of books lol) Tilda do not allow their patterns to be used other than for personal use

…mini felt animals from another book that do not allow the designs to be used for selling the finished items and disney…Disney do prosecute though…too many people use the patterns and don’t read the copyright at all.

Hey I’m waffing lol…again thank you and I will have another look it’s always useful to brush up on legal info. Debby x


AnneFontenoy

    6 September

The intellectual Property Office are always very helpful about Copyright and Design Right.

There is quite a lot of information on-line but they are also very good if you phone them for advice.

  [GOV.UK](https://www.gov.uk/copyright)

How copyright protects your work

Who gets copyright, types of work it covers, permitted use of copyright material, how to license and sell copyright and help resolving disputes

  [GOV.UK](https://www.gov.uk/design-right)

Design right

The shape and the configuration of objects are automatically protected by design right in the UK and Europe.

where you will find the basics.

If someone commissions you to create an artistic work, then in the UK the creator owns the copyright since 1988 when there were changes to UK Copyright laws, unless otherwise agreed.

  [GOV.UK](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/copyright-acts-and-related-laws)

Copyright Acts and related laws

The principal legislation on copyright can be found in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The law changed about Design commissions a few years ago so that although Design Right does not last as long as Copyright, if a customer commissions a design then the design right now belongs to the creator, unless otherwise agreed. 2014 publication link attached

assets.publishing.service.gov.uk

changes-to-designs-law.pdf

441.28 KB

There is an overlap between artistic works, works of artistic craftsmanship and design which can get quite complicated.

Artist Newsletter may also have useful articles or links on their website www.a-n.co.uk

Re: the photo: was it the client’s photo or a photo taken by someone else that the client wanted to use?

If in doubt ask a lawyer. A lot of insurance policies include a free legal advice phone help line in their policies.

Happy reading @Bearlescent.
I admire your attention to detail for the kits.

BTW an intellectual property solicitor advised me to ask for at least £10,000 to assign copyright, which has to be a written agreement, also legally you cannot assign your moral rights in the work e. g. the artist still has to be credited as the creator as well as retaining several other rights.

Best, Anne

P. S. Catherine @MountainOfDots Hope my two posts help you find some answers

1 Like

I am the artist Anne, they are my designs and creations so the copyright is mine x


AnneFontenoy

    7 September

Happy reading @Bearlescent.

I admire your attention to detail for the kits.

BTW an intellectual property solicitor advised me to ask for at least £10,000 to assign copyright, which has to be a written agreement, also legally you cannot assign your moral rights in the work e. g. the artist still has to be credited as the creator as well as retaining several other rights.

Best, Anne

Thank you for such a detailed reply the links are helpful. It was her photo and did have her in it (but looking out towards the view so not recognisable) so I could understand why she wasn’t happy with the idea of me re-using it. In the end I’m just happy that we identified the ownership issue right at the start and that I didn’t end up drawing/selling something that we then had disputes over!

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Thanks for letting me know the post was useful and the finer details of the issue @MountainOfDots