View Full Version : Selling images? copyright?

10-16-2004, 05:37 PM
I haven't been to this forum before, so hello! :wave:

I'm a painter in general, but recently have submitted two drawings to a company looking for illustrations for a game they are producing.

If they want them, what should I expect in terms of their offer? In other words, do companies buy drawings/illustrations from you directly for an agreed amount of money, and then they can reproduce it as much as they want for no additional money? In that case, who has the copyright?
Or, alternatively, do they buy the right to use the images for a certain (lesser) amount, and then give you a percentage of...er...something as they reproduce it in the thousands?

I am really new at this and have no idea what I am doing. Hence turning to wetcanvas for a crash course in "how not to be _____ed over". :wink2:
Thanks in advance!

10-18-2004, 01:55 PM
At this point, I would do a search of the forums using keywords like "copyright," "selling rights," etc. This topic is discussed fairly often and there's good info in the archives.

10-18-2004, 02:31 PM

Hi and welcome to the forum!

I agree with Ted, there are plenty of in depth topics on the subject of copyrights. Also there is a book out there "The artist/Illustrators Market Guide" It will be of big help to you.

For just an overview, Most companies will buy you out with the right to print. It usually is a one time buyout, so read the contract. Oh, yeah, make sure there is a contract. If you want to retain the rights to your image, you must have that in the contract.

There are many businesses that just want your work, and they want all rights to it. So if you are okay with that, then by all means enjoy!


10-19-2004, 01:51 AM
Thanks for the responses, I will do a search and check out what the options are. :)

10-25-2004, 11:02 AM
Do also check with the laws in your country. Most information on WetCanvas is for the USA...

Independent of the amount you will ask them, do make a contract you and them sign, stating exactly what the art is allowed to be used in etc. (else later on you might find out that you missed an opportunity of getting royalties for merchandise and so on).

Do a search if in your country there is an association for artists, most of the time these will provide some basic informatin for free...

Good luck!

11-15-2004, 11:23 PM
This is an interesting. In the US, you keep whatever rights you don't specifically give away (sell). Any of these rights can, and should be, specified in a contract. You can specify one-time use, or you can specify use for a period of time, like one year for example. You can specify the right to use the image for a particular market, like maybe for t-shirts, or for posters. If a client buys rights for t-shirts, that doesn't give them rights to put the image on coffee mugs. They would have to renegotiate rights at that point. You can negotiate a full buyout of rights, where the client can use the image as often as they like for whatever purpose they like. If the art is going to become part of a trademarked product, like a game, the company would most likely want to negotiate a full buyout of rights so they don't have to worry about getting, or not getting, the artist's permission in the future. A full buyout of reproduction rights does not necessarily include the original art - it depends on what you negotiate.

Most of my work has been for magazines. Magazines usually want the art for exclusive, one-time use, which means they are first to use it in print. After that you can sell someone else the right to use the same image (stock images). Magazines will sometimes want to reprint an article, and in those cases I get a call requesting permission to use the art. They pay a re-use fee, which tends to be lower than the original commission.

I'm not sure what kind of game it is, but unless you are a fairly accomplished and well-known artist, you will probably be a the mercy of the buyer. Assuming they choose to use your art, they will probably have a budget in mind and they will probably pay a flat fee for exclusive, unlimited rights to the image. They are going to want to know what their costs are going to be before they produce the product.

I try to ask for more money whenever possible. If the magazine says their budget is $500 for a particular project, I might ask, "Could we do $550?". Sometimes they will say their budget won't allow it, but sometimes they will say yes. The less I like the project, the bolder I am about asking for more money. :D Cheers!