What is a copyright?
In the simplest terms, "copyright" means "the right to copy." Only the owner of copyright, very often the creator of the work, is allowed to produce or reproduce the work in question or to permit anyone else to do so.

"The Artist shall retain the copyright and ownership of the image, granting exclusive rights of usage to the Client for promotional, advertising, and reference purposes only. Any additional uses of the image for anything other than promotional, advertising, and reference purposes shall constitute a new usage fee of ________."

My thoughts:
Oh, poor, naïve me! To round out what I had previously posted here, I'm going to talk a bit about various little legal stuff I've seen on Conceptart.org, my favorite source of artistic ideas.

How do you price? As one of the handful of freelance "artist" on the web who has absolutely no clue how to successfully be one, I dare to wonder how an actual contract looks like. A quick search turned up some great stuff. But lets focus first on the legal crap. Here is a list of wordings I found on a thread - an excerpt from the Graphic Artist's Handbook - and I'll post up a bit here so you, my tiny audience of the Void™ can see what it looks like.


__ Labor fees (design, art direction, production, copywriting, client services, etc.) are estimated at a total of $_________ or ____ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

__ Consultation fees are estimated at a total of $ __________ or ____ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

__ Materials costs (RC/film/neg output, scanning, project specific materials, etc.) are estimated at a total of $__________ or ___ see attached estimate sheet for specifications.

Total estimated cost of project: $____________ Project estimates are valid for 90 days from the date of estimate. Project may be reestimated if, upon receipt of all project elements, the designer determines the scope of the project has been altered dramatically from the originally agreed upon concept. Printing fees will be estimated separately and payment arrangements made between client and printer.

My thoughts:
So apparently now as a 'freelance artist', I can get paid simply by talking to a client. Amazing. What next? I'll get paid for doling out advice to troubled individuals? Sheesh. And what's this? I can get paid for "materials"? For "scanning"? Wow! You know what I use for drawing? I use the back of old insurance policies. My pencils are lousy number 2 pencils from the office! I'm not saying I'm cheap here, but how much should these two parts cost? Oh well. I think the place where I can totally cash in is LABOR. Yeah. That'd be a good place to start. But how do I know the value of my own blood, sweat and tears??


__ A deposit in an amount equal to 25% of the total estimated cost is requested prior to execution of the project ($__________).

__ Payment in full or the remaining balance is to be paid upon delivery of the completed project. A cash discount of 5% of the total project labor and consultation cost is offered to clients paying upon delivery of the finished project.

__ Payment in full or the remaining balance is to be paid 15 days from receipt of the final invoice for the completed project. Finance charge of 1.5% per month (18% annually) on all overdue balances.

My thoughts:
Still figuring out how to get paid in my country. The following are a bunch of the more interesting wordings I found. The rest are pretty obvious, so I won't bother posting them here.


The client shall not unreasonably withhold acceptance of, or payment for, the project. If, prior to completion of the project, the client observes any nonconformance with the design plan, the designer must be promptly notified, allowing for necessary corrections. Rejection of the completed project or cancellation during its execution will result in forfeiture of deposit and the possible billing for all additional labor or expenses to date. All elements of the project must then be returned to the designer. Any usage by the client of those design elements will result in appropriate legal action. Client shall bear all costs, expenses, and reasonable attorney's fees in any action brought to recover payment under this contract or in which Jeff Fisher LogoMotives may become a party by reason of this contract.

My thoughts:
Well, I can't really say much about that. This is something we as an artist sort of fear. There's nothing more terrible than having your stuff not getting shown to any audience. Even if you do get paid for your troubles, its doubly worse because the client probably wouldn't allow you to post it up anyway.

Author's Alterations
This section points out that it is the customer's responsibility to pay for any changes from the original project. It should also state something to the effect that mistakes you make will be fixed free of charge.

Preparatory Materials
State who owns preparatory materials: sketches, disks, negatives, etc.

A signed proof is necessary before work can be completed. Requests must be made for revised proofs. You cannot be held responsible for errors if the customer doesn't return a signed proof, or if the customer asks for changes without the submission of proofs. Here is also where you state that there may be some variance between color on a proof and color on a finished job.

Ownership of Artwork
Perhaps one of the most important sections: who owns the artwork is explained here. I also include a paragraph that states I have the right to use this work for design competitions, future publications on design, educational purposes, and marketing materials.

My thoughts:
I'm a bit like the Japanese. I have no clue as to the value of copyright. But I'm learning. Cool! I can get paid for alterations in my art work!

But They Won't Sign It . . .
If the prospect won't sign your contract, then they don't become your customer. I've only had one instance in seven years where a customer even questioned my contract; they did eventually sign. I've even worked with a variety of law firms, and none have ever refused to sign, although some have made slight variations.

One of our forum members says that he does have trouble getting customers to sign contracts. Instead, he includes his terms in his proposal or estimate. Here are some interesting threads from the forum on contracts:

Digital Signatures
President Clinton signed a bill into law that gives “digital signatures” the same legal validity as handwritten ones. I was thinking of the implications this has for commercial artists.

"I, for one, have gotten “burned” often enough to believe in always using a contract, and have found it to be a good way of preventing “misunderstandings” with clients. Unfortunately, in the fast-paced world of publishing, and especially digital publishing, it is not always practical to hold up a project until papers can be sent in the mail, even by overnight delivery.

I've been using faxed project agreements for over ten years and recently started using emailed PDF files agreements with no problems. If anything, my project agreement often scares off potentially flaky customers."

My thoughts:
Ah, what do I know. A lot of the stuff I've done is purely honor-based at this point. I must see the value in all of this. My experiences before should be telling me that I should take this thing seriously!

So there you have it - the wordings you see here seem to give a vague idea how to 'price' myself. I have to find out how much I'm worth, otherwise I'll just be the same free-of-charge fan artist you know on deviantArt. Agh!

Exceptions... Yeah, lets talk about that for now - what are exempted from this freelance artist's compact?
The only exceptions are (Thanks to Wikipedia for its info!):

- Fan art which depicts material that is in the public domain or which has been released under a 'free' license that allows derivative works:

- Art which depicts everyday objects of utilitarian use; e.g. cars, clocks, clothing, which are not artistically unique. You can draw a picture of an Astin Martin without it being subject to the copyright of the James Bond movies, but the Batmobile from Batman is a unique artistic creation and fan art of it would fall under the original copyright.

- Photographs which fall under freedom of panorama. If the Batmobile from Batman were permanently installed in a public park you would then be able to freely re-use, but not alter, photographs of it according to the copyright laws of some countries.

- Diagrams which inform on the content of a work of fiction in a non-artistic, straightforward manner. You can highlight the regions of "Oceania", "Eurasia" and "Eastasia" from Nineteen Eighty-Four on a world map, but you cannot "redraw" the map illustrations depicted in copies of The Lord of the Rings.

Therefore, fan art which appears on Commons needs at least two copyright justifications. First, it must establish that the image meets one of the four exceptions listed above for portrayal of a derivative from a copyrighted work. Second, it must indicate that the creator of the derivative then releases that image under a free license. Theoretically, a derivative of a derivative could require three or more copyright justifications.

My thoughts:
Got that? Ah, lets talk about pricing next time. I'm dying to talk about something else that doesn't make my brain go blank after a few sentences. Good day to you all! Be vigilant.


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