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How to negotiate copyright for client?

738 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  bpfohler
So I've been doing digital art as a hobby for while but this is my first foray into commercial work, I was recommended to a guy starting a new t-shirt business (single man operation) needing graphics for tshirts and a few other clothing items and accessories (hats, stickers, etc). We are both new to running businesses.

So far I have drawn up and been paid for 2 logos and several graphics, and the issue of copyright had never been addressed. we have set a meeting time to discuss this and in preparation i have been looking at professional organisations and council guideline but they give very broad guidelines and nothing too specific it appears to be up to the individual on what copyright rights they give out.

From my understanding the artist drawing the designs owns copyright by default and the copyright must either be entirely transferred or the company may be licenses. My issue is concerning artwork I designed myself vs artwork where the client basically gave me a sketch and said "put this in Photoshop just like I've drawn" I've done several of each, but in the second case where the client provides the sketch does he own original copyright or do I? or is it joint?

I'm aware that copyright licencing is often tied directly to price. I'm basically looking for input on how to approach this issue, what sort of licencing I should transfer or whether i should transfer complete rights. For the designs the client sketched should I transfer rights with a fee or without a fee? for the art I designed myself I personally feel more inclined to only license it and not transfer copyright entirely, and attach a higher cost to the licensing. I've seen people command very high prices for copyright transfer but I'm not sure what would be appropriate in this case. For reference individual designs have been bought from between $20-$140 with some being quite complex and designs with largely re-purposed elements from previous designs for about $20. they have all been delivered without any written copyright agreement so far.

Both being new to pricing of art and copyright we are both walking blindly in the dark when it comes to negotiation and we both have little clue on industry standards when it comes to pricing and copyright
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I would guess that if someone gives you a sketch, you scan it into PS, then have it printed on hats, shirts, stickers, or whatever they own the copyright...you own nothing. If they give you a sketch as an idea and you draw up your interpretation of their sketch which turns it into something fancy and spectacular then you own the copyright. Of course, I don't know the true legal answer.
I don’t know the answer either but when I use freelance artist (mostly local college students) I make them sign an agreement that I own it since I paid for them to create the artwork.

If they want to create artwork on their own time and pay me for printing then it’s theirs.
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