giving away or selling art but keeping the rights

  • SVS OG

    So, I am downsizing from a 2000 square foot home to a fifth wheel. Of course, I have art that I can't keep. I have a couple of pieces I am gifting to friends and family.

    I am asking my friend to photograph it so I can still keep it and maybe use it for things. ,

     In order to keep the rights to use it , if I sell it or give it to someone, how should I do that?  Can I just write up a little note saying I own the rights to use the image but they own the physical painitng?  Then sign it?  I don't imagine it would really be a big problem but just wondering.

    Also, my photographer friend is glad to help me, I know, but I am wondering what a good payment might be to her. Thanks for guidance on this.

  • Not a lawyer, but pretty sure gifting and selling art does not transfer any of your rights as the artist whatsoever to the receiver or purchaser. Obviously they have the right to sell or give it away to someone else, but still, there is no transfer of rights to that secondary person.

    The only time rights would be an issue is when you do art for a client. And even then, you still retain the rights to the artwork itself, while giving the client the rights to reproduce it in whatever way was agreed upon at the initiation of the project.

    Doing art as an employee of a company is another issue, usually stating that any work you do while employed by said company, belongs to the company.

    Probably more than you wanted, but hope that helps.

  • SVS OG

    @tombarrettillo Yes, thanks!

  • I bought an original illustration about ten years ago and the artist included a document like what you're describing, Marsha. He explained it to me before I made the purchase so it wasn't a surprise to receive that with the artwork.

    I was new to buying art and initially I felt like I should own the rights since I was buying the piece but I did some research and learned (of course) that what the artist was doing was normal. So I had resolved my own understanding of it before we completed the transaction.

    I think it was wise of him, and I think it's wise of you to spell it out to your friends and customers.

  • SVS OG

    @teresa Thank you for your insight 🙂

  • My understanding was that the artist ALWAYS automatically owns the rights to anything they create unless they specifically sell or give away those rights. Unless that has changed...

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