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What to charge for a copyright release on my art?

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by Jolene Clayton, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. Jolene Clayton

    Jolene Clayton Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Illinois
    I'm an artist who's been dabbling in selling art online for a few years. I've never dealt with copyright or copyright releases; everything I sell is either a commission for personal use or sale of the object alone. About an hour ago, I received a message from someone asking me how much it would cost to buy the copyrights of a few pieces they might commission. I told them that I'm not yet sure, explaining exactly what I've just said to you guys, but I also said that I'd be willing to figure it out and return with a quote. I also asked them what they plan to do with the copyright, so I've got the following information:

    - The potential client is considering a commission of a few different pieces.
    - They intend to use the art for online merch, probably for an indefinite amount of time.
    - If it matters, I'm already planning to charge at least $120 for each painting, copyright not included.

    I've done some reading, and I know that I have several different options when drafting the copyright release. I would like a few different opinions on what would be best for me as an artist for hire and also reasonable for the client. Nothing has been set in stone; the commissioner is considering several artists besides me and only plans to order from one. Regardless of whether or not they buy my services, any knowledge I can gain from here will be super helpful because I might receive a similar request in the future. Thank you all for your time.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Q: What to charge for a copyright release on my art?
    A: Whatever you want.

    Really...yours is not a legal question.
     
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    These boards are for legal issues, not to figure out how to price your work.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    What you can charge will be born out by the marketplace.

    What everyone who charges for a good or service must always endeavor to do, is never undersell your work.

    One should place her or his value on whatever it is they offering for sale such that the value proposition is immediately apparent to all SERIOUS buyers.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I would want to know the profit potential of the merchandise.

    One option involves royalties. You get a piece of every sale.
     
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  6. Jolene Clayton

    Jolene Clayton Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I could be wrong, but the sale of copyright seems to have more to do with law than any product I’ve ever dealt with, making my question appropriate for this forum.

    But that’s not very important; I’d like to thank all of you for your answers. Asking for royalties is an option I have considered. However, the only sources I can find deal with music. Maybe what I can do for music and visual arts are the same; I’m not sure. I’ll look around more myself but if anyone has helpful sources, I’d appreciate it. Sorry if I’m asking really stupid questions here. Like I said, I’ve never dealt with copyright or issues involving IP at all before.
     
  7. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    You aren't selling the copyright which is why it isn't a legal question. You are allowing the use of copyright protected work.

    You get what the market will pay.
     
    army judge and Jolene Clayton like this.
  8. Jolene Clayton

    Jolene Clayton Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the legitimate correction; I figured there could be a misunderstanding on my part. Now I think I’ve got a real legal question; what’s the difference between selling the copyright itself and being paid to allow the use of a copyrighted work?
     
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure about that?

    Now THAT is a legal question.

    A copyright is a collection of rights that the author of a work of authorship owns. A "work of authorship" is any of the things described in section 102 of Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Act, and the rights are enumerated in section 106.

    Copyrights are embodied in tangible mediums of expression. For example a literary work may be embodied in printed page or computer files. Musical works may be embodied in various types of media (sheet music, vinyl records, magnetic tape, CDs, etc.). Pictorial, graphic or sculptural works may be embodied in dozens of media.

    If I write a song (let's call it "Hey Jude"), then I own the copyright, which means I also have all of the rights enumerated in section 106. I make a sound recording of my song (which creates a separate copyright) and make copies of that recording and sell them to the public. In selling those copies, I have not sold my rights of copyright. If someone who buys a copy of my recording decides to make and sell further copies, he/she is infringing my copyright, and I can sue for monetary and injunctive relief.

    If I'm hard up for cash, I might choose to sell my copyright. If I did that, I would no longer have any of the rights under section 106.

    Alternatively, someone may decide that he/she would like to sample the sound recording of my song in a new song. Under section 106, I can license others to exercise any of my rights, so I can grant a license (either exclusive or non-exclusive) to sample the recording of my song in another song. By licensing someone to exercise one or more section 106 rights, I am still retaining my copyright and all of my rights.

    If that doesn't make sense or you have other questions, feel free to ask more questions.
     

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