@Kumica-Truong-0 said in Explaining copyright to non-artists:
Hi all! I'm sure this topic has been discussed at length in the past so you'll have to forgive me - I'm new here.
No worries. This is a topic that should come up often.
So I seem to keep running into issues relating to copyright. The best way to describe them is probably through 2 situations in the past month that have just blown my mind
- I do a lot of pet illustrations, and in many cases use it on/for merch to raise funds for a related cause, non-profit or the pet themselves. I ofcourse get the pet owner's blessing first, and give them the illustration for free.
Couple things. When you get the owner's blessing is it in writing? Contract or e-mail or even a good ol' letter? Avoid verbal "contracts" as they are effectively unenforceable. And when you say "give" do you mean they get a printed copy, or a digital file -- or do you mean you give them physical original art?
So anyway, on this particular occasion, I was asked to donate a colouring page for Mr. Cat's goody bag which were to be handed out to the kids at his meet'n'greet event, which I happily did as it would help raise awareness of special needs pets.
As it was so well received I was then asked to illustrate an entire colouring book. The owner however, expected to receive all the source files (for 16+ illustrations) as well as an unlimited licence to make copies of the colouring book.. FOR FREE! Wait, my mistake.. not for free, in exchange for using her cat as a model and for a few posts/stories on her IG account. I mean, sure, she has over 100,000 followers but seriously?! My illustrations are very stylised so the cat I drew could damn well be ANY cat. I can't seem to get through to her and have basically given up trying
Can I assume the cat owner is the client? What are you trying to get from the client that she isn't giving you? Are you looking for payment (totally reasonable BTW) or do you just want to maintain your copyright?
but am wondering how I could better explain how this is completely unfair if a similar situation were to arise in future.
I can understand how frustrating this can be -- but also don't overcomplicate it. Just say "I don't work for free". Everyone understands this concept. And if the client tries to use the: "But think of the exposure!" , simply explain that your credit card company doesn't take "exposure" payments.
That's not to say that exposure doesn't have some potential value. If you feel that exposure value is worthwhile you could offer something like an "exposure discount" -- but I would still require being paid some amount for the time, energy, and resources dedicated to the project.
Something to keep in mind. The fact that this client has 100,000+ followers means that this project has significant potential value to the client. Therefore any licensing fee you quote should be adjusted upward accordingly. When pricing a project you don't base it solely on the value of the project to YOU (too many illustrators price projects on their "hourly rate"). Rather pro illustrators calculate the licensing fee based on the value of the project to the CLIENT.
Does anyone know of a good explainer video or resource to explain to non-artists from the artist's perspective?
Now that you mention it -- no. Not that it doesn't exist somewhere on YouTube's platform, but I spend a lot of time researching and thinking about copyright and licensing and I've never come across what you are talking about. It would be a valuable resource though!
- I was recently asked to illustrate my first children's book ever but when receiving the contract that requested i hand over my copyrights, i refused, and offered an exclusive licence instead.
What rights did that exclusive license cover?
After much back and forth I finally got them to agree, however as a part of this process, they requested quotes from 2 other illustrators (in an attempt to ascertain what was industry best practice) - these were both well established illustrators, i might add - and what I thought would prove the points i had been arguing, did the complete opposite, as both illustrators offered to hand over their copyrights.
As a freelance illustrator there is only one reason I can use to justify transferring my copyright to a client, and that is -- the budget for the project is so high that I feel it compensates me for EVERY POTENTIAL USE the image could be put to for the duration of copyright protection (my life +70 years).
My opening quote for a Work For Hire (WFH) project is $30,000 per illustration. I feel that is a perfectly reasonable price for a client to exclusively own, and profit from, a single image for what will be (approximately) 110 years.
I should note that I have yet to have a client take me up on this, BUT it quickly shifts the conversation away from WFH to a discussion of the rights the client ACTUALLY NEEDS RIGHT NOW AND HAS THE BUDGET FOR.
The added bonus is, if the project is wildly successful and the client needs more rights in the future, they can ALWAYS come back to license them.
The only explanation I could think of was that, they had so much work coming in, it was just easier to give copyrights rather than to try and manage a bunch of licensing agreements (renewals etc.)
That is way too generous of you. I have a few guesses why they would offer a WFH and none of them are flattering. The largest part of my business model is based on "passive income" (that is, ongoing revenue generated from projects that I have already completed)
Does anyone here offer transfer of their copyrights or know of anyone that does? If so, why‽!
Like @NessIllustration when I started out (just out of school and was ignorant of the concept of licensing copyright) I signed WFH contracts. I will always be grateful for Graphic Artists Guild for offering a class in copyright and contracts which opened my eyes right up. So while I am open to a WFH transfer of right (for the $30,000/per image previously mentioned) every project I have done in that last 15 years has been for specific and limited grant of rights.
And as a final thought if that $30,000/image seems outrageously expensive to you -- I guarantee you that there are illustrators who think that is way too cheap! I have images that are ticking right up there in terms of income generated via relicensing to multiple clients over the years.