Art Licensing Copyrights?

  • SVS OG

    I found this while browsing around....I thought I owned the copyright to my work as soon as I created it? Just wondering if this is true that I have to copyright all my work before I can license it?


    No reputable manufacturer will sign a contract with you without making sure you have registered copyrights for the work involved. This presents a problem for many artists because filing copyright registration can get expensive. I’ve found over time that a good compromise is filing a series of work as a "collection" (it doesn’t matter if they are actually a collection or not) before you show any of those pieces to a manufacturer for consideration.

    Technically, you could wait until the pieces have been selected for a licensing deal, but the copyright registration process in the US often takes 6 or 8 months. Meanwhile, you and the manufacturer may have already negotiated and sorted out a mutually-beneficial contract that you can’t sign until you have those registrations. So that way is a bit of a gamble. It could take the same amount of time to negotiate the contract, but the negotiations may be done beforehand which could delay the contract or even put the deal in jeopardy.

  • Pro SVS OG

    @evilrobot Wow, that is definitely good to know. I'm curious about this area, too, since art files get dated the moment you create them...I wonder if copywriting everything is necessary.

    I'll see if I can find more information, thanks for the heads up...that could turn into quite the headache if contracts were already signed.

  • I'm not very knowledgeable but be aware there are limitations when copyrighting images as a collection should you then sell or license that image outside of the collection.

  • SVS OG

    Are you best off going through an agent to avoid issues?

  • @jason-bowen

    Not everyone is able to obtain an agent.

    When I was doing licensing years ago (paper products, greeting cards) I owned the copyright of the images which was spelled out in the contract but if I remember the copyright legalities were handled by the licensing company. I'll see if I can find the contracts.

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