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About selling prints of commissions

People seem to be under the impression that if they pay 50 bucks for a commission that they've also paid off the artist' rights to reproduce and sell the work (as in prints).

I hate to say it, but if you're going to buy production rights off an artist be prepared to pay a neat sum. At least, in the professional world and if you want the artist to treat you professionally then the customer should do likewise.

My advice to artists is to clearly mention your policy on your price list, do you reserve the right to make prints of commissions or include it in portfolios? Do you intend to use that right? Or will you never sell prints etc. of paid commissions? Or will you accept additional payment to not make prints?

My advice to customers is, read the artists' terms and conditions. If you're not clear on something, ask them about it!
And if you don't like an artist's "terms of service", don't commission them.

Mind I'm speaking in general and not in relation to previous posts.
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( 59 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 13th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC)
Very well said.

Personally, on the rare occasions where I take a 2-D art commission, I'm quite happy to give the commissioner full rights at no extra charge. But I don't make the majority of my living on 2-D art like some do.

When I'm commissioning I always assume that the artist will have all rights to reproduce the picture I'm getting, and I don't fuss about it, so long as I have the original.
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Personally, once I start thinking I'm good enough to sell prints, and the piece turns out to be one I think would be print-worthy, I'll just ask the commissioner if they would mind if I sold prints of said piece and I would refrain from doing so if they were uncomfortable with such.

And on the other side, I'm really not sure if I'd want artists printing and selling pieces of my characters. When I start commissioning more people I think I'll just ask them about it beforehand and we'll discuss it. :) It's always nice to be friendly about it.
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Indeed, very said. I always assumed that topic might be an issue, and already made it clear in my terms page, I don't sell prints unless I approach the commissioner about it first.

But again, it is true, and seems to be a problem mainly in the furry fandom. I've never had anyone requestion human characters flip out when I posted the art online, however, I have had issues with fur characters shitting bricks over art even being posting.
Sep. 13th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
No way? When I saw someone post a commission they'd done for me on their site, I was like "Oh! I'm so glad you think it came out well enough to post!"

Furry people are WEIRD. XP
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:27 am (UTC)
the thing is i dont have a price list and dont plan on having one, simply for the fact that i would much rather give people a quote based on their individual commission because theres a lot of factors that need to be considered. what should someone like me do, should I tell people in the quote "this does not include production rights, if you would like me to not make prints of this image a fee of X dollars would apply"?
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:39 am (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea.
Have a little default blurb that also includes what you can/cannot/will/will not draw, mediums etc.?
(no subject) - growing_rose - Sep. 13th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thornwolf - Sep. 13th, 2006 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - westly_roanoke - Sep. 13th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:30 am (UTC)
And you know, artists should make that clear with their customers before the 'deal is sealed', because you know, not everyone is going to read the disclaimers... just go over it to make sure the commissioner knows exactly what the deal is.
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:43 am (UTC)
The default, in the big bad world of law, is that the creator is the copyright holder. They hold all the rights, unless they specifically sign a contract with the commissioner saying otherwise.
(no subject) - armaina - Sep. 13th, 2006 08:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blueroo - Sep. 13th, 2006 11:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - armaina - Sep. 13th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Sep. 13th, 2006 08:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - armaina - Sep. 13th, 2006 08:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Sep. 13th, 2006 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - armaina - Sep. 13th, 2006 08:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Sep. 13th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mix_hyenataur - Sep. 13th, 2006 10:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)
Seriously, people should NOT include commishions in their portfolios unless they ask the person first. I'd have to say "never sell prints etc. of paid commissions" unless asked, and terms of royalties for making money off their character/idea (aka: comishion.).

Get it?

I just hate seeing people being like "I know you paid me.. but like, I'm selling prints of these now, w/o asking you, no royaties, etc... tough luck kid!"

Yeah... yer gunna get sued like Nike got sued by that one guy just recently for the SAME shit.
Sep. 13th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC)
And please, I know you artists are amazed at a commishion at times SOO much that you want to make prints and even keep it for your own, but you HAVE to REALIZE... it really isn't yours to keep. Someone paid for it. It's their character and idea. Please, for the love of god, let them decide.

And seriously, if you are so amazed at that pic... well... make another one! It MIGHT just be better!
(no subject) - nambroth - Sep. 13th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Sep. 13th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Sep. 13th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nightlove - Sep. 13th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tailypo - Sep. 14th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Sep. 13th, 2006 10:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - westly_roanoke - Sep. 13th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Sep. 13th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kistaro - Sep. 16th, 2006 07:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 11:39 am (UTC)
Under current copyright laws, the only way copyright can be transferred is in writing. There has to be a contract.

However, even if an artist has the copyright to the artwork, that does not necessarily mean the artist can sell prints of the artwork. There is one scenario that stops this -- if the artwork depicts characters or icons protected under trademark law.

Trademark is not an issue with 99% of the artwork commissioned in the "furry fandom", since most people are not using their fursona or characters in a commercial enterprise and have not done the work to seek trademark protection.

I agree ... If you don't like the artist's terms and conditions, then don't hire them.
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
Characters cannot be trademarked. Names can be trademarked, like "Mighty Mouse."
(no subject) - vickimfox - Sep. 14th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 02:53 pm (UTC)
Agreed. And if I make a piece I particularily like (Say for example, someone commissions a hawttie pyramid head ripping someone's skin off- I can reproduce that anyways, because even though they gave me some cash for it, it isn't theirs. Same if its' their 'character'. Most furries don't bother TMing their character, so there's no law against copyrighting. The one exception I can think of is 'zigzag' who bothered to copyright/tm his character), which nullifies that whole "Its my character" BS. Most furries won't spend the cash to get it copyrighted.
Sidenote: Trademark means a particular piece of paper with crap on it cannot be reproduced, however, the contents may be reproduced so long as(Artwise) they are in different poses, with different clothes, with a background, etc. So long as the art doesn't resemble the original.
Copyrights are the rights forbading copy of that character without elusive permission.

So there's your clarification. Also, you need to pay actual money(About 50 bucks) to copyright a character to the american copyright institution. So, since most furries are too stupid to do so, you're all clear, kiddies.

..*blinks* You need to know this shit when you're a babysitter ;) lol
Sep. 13th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)
I don't think that's -entirely- true though


of course, the furry world has it's own debates on the issues (and they're always such fun debates)
According to this, you do not essencially -need- copyright documents. Of course this does mostly refer to created works such as art or fiction, but I would think it also applies to characters as a whole (ie: not just visual design but history, story ect) and especially creature concepts.

of course that all is full of grey areas.. (once again, those fun fun furry debates) but eh, just I'd thought I'd point that out.
(no subject) - flyingwild - Sep. 13th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Sep. 14th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC)
I have seen over time, how fiscally tough the art market is. And I certainly don't mind artists making additional money from their efforts by selling prints derived from commission work.

What I do like, is for said prints to have some indication that the character(s) depicted have owners and are NOT public domain.
Sep. 13th, 2006 03:38 pm (UTC)
Unless they are trademarked, they kindof are public domain. Copyright protects original works, not the elements therein (ie. giant purple duck with green spots or whathaveyou) or characters. Anyone can take any "character" and do whatever they want with it, as long as it isn't trademarked(well in theory). It's just not polite to do so.
(no subject) - flyingwild - Sep. 13th, 2006 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Sep. 13th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Sep. 13th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiercereaper - Sep. 13th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blueroo - Sep. 14th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - growing_rose - Sep. 13th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC)
What I don't get is why people go haywire over someone simply putting a commission online or in their portfolio. o-O I mean...morally, I can see how selling the prints could be awkward, since people have emotional attachments to their character, and now everyone's using them for wanking material or whatnot and you don't see a cent of it. But online/in a portfolio? I mean, if you like the artist...don't you want other people to see what they do for money, and then potentially commission them? I know I'd be pretty wary of commissioning someone with no examples of past commissions they claim to have done...

But yeah, legally, I suppose they would own the copyright! Fortunately, many artists are very nice people, and would probably agree to not sell prints if you just ask nicely. And if they won't, take your business elsewhere, end of story.
Sep. 13th, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC)
"I can see how selling the prints could be awkward, since people have emotional attachments to their character, and now everyone's using them for wanking material or whatnot and you don't see a cent of it."

If you have art of your character on-line, someone is wanking to it.
Even if it's tame art, someone is wanking to it.
Your character could be a particularly intelligent albeit a-sexual slice of cheese, someone is wanking to it.

It's kind of disturbing but an unavoidable thing.
Sep. 13th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
Out of curiosity, in relation to this, how does one determine what a fair price to refrain from making prints would be? Does it depend on how much the person originally paid? Does it depend on how much you would expect to make from prints? If I made a digital piece for $50, for example, and wanted to sell prints for $10 but the commissioner said, "Please don't," what would be a reasonable price to charge in that instance?

Not that anything like that is going on for me right now, I'm just curious, because I know there has been art I have done for other people that I've been extremely proud of, but been a little wary about making prints of. I'd like to know if there's a sort of "rule of thumb" for figuring out this sort of thing. Thanks to anyone that helps! :)
Sep. 13th, 2006 06:00 pm (UTC)
Good question, depends on how much the artist expects to sell I guess and the profit thereof. It could be a pricey business that way.
Sep. 13th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
Whatever artwork you produce belongs to and is copyrighted to you, and legally you can do whatever you want with it.


If it is of copyrighted or trademarked characters, then you might run into a bit of a sticky spot.

So basically I would go with this. If the commission is of generic characters that aren't specifically an actual character (the "I'd like ____ with ____ hair etc" sort of thing), then simply mention that you reserve the right to print it, display it, etc. If it's of a person's actual character, which WILL be copyrighted, then I would ask before selling prints of it. I would before displaying it in a portfolio as well but honestly I don't know why anyone would be against doing that.
Sep. 13th, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
What you say makes a lot of sense, but I actually have never gotten commissions from people who make prints on that stuff. I like it when artists respect the privacy of the commissioner's ideas and characters when they want it. At the same time, though, if an artist really enjoyed drawing my idea and wishes to put the picture into their portfolio, I don't think I'd refuse, I'd just want credit for my character and the ideas of the scenario

To date, none of my characters or ideas have been turned into prints, though I actually would be flattered if it happened, as people would then get more familiar with my ideas and stuff. The artist then can earn more money, and I get more exposure, everyone wins! XD
Sep. 13th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
I certainly think it's just polite to ask someone if you've already done the deed. Say an artist did a pic in 03 and just this year started selling prints. Would be silly to go back and demand more money. :P

I mean, I've been flattered every time an artist asks if I would mind. It means they like the end product enough and hopefully also means they enjoyed the production of the art. :3 Which means that hopefully they'd think of me as a good commissioner if I came back then! =D
Sep. 13th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
I have made it a policy to allow any artist I commission the right to issue prints and to make a profit from them if they so choose.I felt that simply having my character known in the fandom was enough. :-)
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