Folksy Ltd

Commissions and copyright

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:

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!


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:


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!


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: