This is a guest post by Kathryn Goldman, an intellectual property attorney who wants you to become the CEO of your creative career. She has built a framework strategy called CP²: Content Protection for Creative Professionals to help creative professionals reach that goal, one manageable step at a time.
Today Kathryn will talk to us about how an artist can protect illustrations when working with a writer (Like The Royal Hamster’s daydreams, her example below is fictitious). Kathryn’s article is written to give us an idea of how to be thoughtful about intellectual property and the law when we create artwork, and is not legal advice.
Protecting Illustrations when Working with a Writer
The Royal Hamster’s elegance was on display in Canada last week. Imagine that The Royal Hamster caught the attention of that nation, the media, and the Twitter sphere, and even a famous Biographer to the royal family.
For this hypothetical example, the Biographer has asked The Royal Hamster’s creator to illustrate a forthcoming book on fashion in the royal family starring, of course, The Royal Hamster.
The Illustrator is flattered and intrigued by the offer. But before she goes any further, our Illustrator needs to think about the deal carefully because she wants to keep her rights in her illustrations.
Be aware of your legal rights in artwork.
This can be a tricky little area in the business life of a creative professional. Once you sell a piece of art, you are no longer an amateur. You’re making money with your creations.
When that happens, you need to be aware that you can create multiple revenue streams from a single work of art. That’s the basis of a successful creative career. To do that, there are certain rights you need to reserve for yourself.
Investigating the possible options, knowing the proper route to take, and negotiating the best deal for yourself can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Figure out what you don’t know, then learn it! Just like you learned to write or draw.
Let’s take a look at how our favorite Illustrator is going to sort this out so she can work with the famous Biographer and still retain the rights to her illustrations of The Royal Hamster.
Identify whether your illustrations will be “licensed” or a “work for hire.”
It’s the Biographer’s practice to commission illustrations for the books that he writes.
But if illustrations of The Royal Hamster are commissioned for use in the book using a written contract signed by both the Biographer and the Illustrator then the Biographer becomes the owner of the rights in the illustrations. The illustrations will be “a work for hire.”
Our Illustrator does not want to give up her rights to her drawings, she wants to keep them and continue to share the drawings with everyone who loves and follows The Royal Hamster on Twitter and elsewhere.
She doesn’t want to sell the illustrations, what she wants to do is license them.
Licensing is not selling the art. It is selling the right to reproduce the art.
The written contract between the Biographer and the Illustrator needs to be clear that the work is not a work for hire, it’s a license agreement.
Consider the limitations on how you want your illustrations to be used.
The Biographer, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be a co-author of the book with Illustrator. That would give the Illustrator equal rights to the written part of the work.
The contract between them needs to be very clear about what use the Biographer can make of the illustrations and whether the Illustrator has any rights to the written work.
When the Illustrator grants rights to the Biographer to use the illustrations in the book in the license agreement, there will be limitations on how the illustrations can be used – in what territories (English-speaking countries only, maybe), or a limited number of printed editions, or digitally only for a certain length of time.
Also, the Illustrator does not want the Biographer to have the exclusive right to use illustrations of The Royal Hamster’s fashion sensibilities.
Protect your illustrations with copyright registration.
Once the contract is signed, the end result is that the Biographer owns the copyright in the written work and the Illustrator owns the copyright in the visual art.
With our illustrious creator of The Royal Hamster having retained ownership rights of her illustrations, she must now protect them with the proper copyright registration.
When artwork has to be registered with the Copyright Office separately from the main text of a written work, as it does here because there are two different authors, you file the application as a collection of published works using Form VA.
The illustrations are all in one book and that’s considered the same unit of publication.
The Copyright Office permits registration of multiple individual works in a single application when they are contained in the same unit of publication if:
- It’s the first time all of the works included in the registration have been published; and
- The owner of each work included in the application is the same.
This way, our Illustrator gets the benefit of filing a single application with just one filing fee.
Become the CEO of Your Creative Career
For the past two years, I have been surveying writers and artists to learn what it is they want to know about the many facets of their businesses.
Using that research, I have put together the CP2 Blueprint for Creative Professionals who want Content Protection for their work.
The CP2 Blueprint breaks down the four major practical and legal concerns of a creative business:
- Identifying the most important work to protect
- Protecting it easily and effectively
- Monitoring your portfolio
- Enforcing your rights
The CP2 Blueprint dives one step deeper and breaks those four categories into smaller, discrete, easily understood topics to help you become the CEO of your creative career.
This Friday, I will be opening the doors to CP2: Content Protection for Creative Professionals training program for the only time this year.
If you are interested in learning more about protecting your creative work so you can profit from it be sure to download the CP2 Blueprint.
Kathryn Goldman is an intellectual property attorney who wants you to become the CEO of your creative career. She has built a framework strategy called CP²: Content Protection for Creative Professionals to help creative professionals reach that goal, one manageable step at a time.