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Question related to the Syrae thread.

With the Syrae thread devolving into a copyright war of words, I figured it was time ask this question. I separated it from the Syrae thread since it might be useful for both artists and commissioners to take note of this discussion.

What are the rules of the land as far as commissioned artwork involving the commissioner's character(s)? I would assume that the commissioner has some recourse when dealing with works involving his/her characters, and the artist has some recourse available by default, but who has the final say as to who can do what with the finished product, in terms of alterations, etc? What kind of timeframe should a commissioner hold for approaching the artist for changes, and when would it be a DIY case?

I'm not talking about generic artwork commissions, I'm speaking of commissions involving characters whose "existence" predates the artwork being commissioned.

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( 70 comments — Leave a comment )
sigilgoat
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
I've got a clause in my TOS that states that changes need to go through me first.

If i wanted to edit some work I got commissioned by someone else, I would ask first, but if it went more than a week and it was a minor change, I'd probably do it myself.
msmanuscript
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
Contact first, do it yourself second. Even if it's small. If it's really small, and they don't say anything, do it yourself. If it's big, wait a while longer. More so when you know it's a busy time like the holidays.
thaily
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Unless you have agreed differently with the artist, they retain the rights to the finished image. Regardless of the characters depicted therein, unless you own a trademark or registered copyright.

The time frame depends, I think you can always ask an artist about changes. Asking doesn't hurt, provided the artist is a normal person. If the change is small and the artist is nice the odds are good that they'll help you out. Otherwise they might ask for compensation for the additional work.
sabarika
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
"Regardless of the characters depicted therein, unless you own a trademark or registered copyright."
Quoting for truth, a lot of artists seem to believe they legally "own" their characters..and can to a degree depending on situation, but to truly "OWN" your design you should copyright or trademark it (then you can pursue court battles for art used w/your char improperly, like how Disney can with their characters, etc).
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puppetmaker40
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Then I see it as "Work for Hire". Most of my professional career has been work for hire. I am given a sum of money to create for the buyer what they have requested. I have also been on the other end of the stick hiring artists to create covers for books for publication. Once I have turned over the piece, I no longer have a say in what is done with it.
thaily
Jan. 4th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Might I ask as to the prices of WFH? I imagine it's a bit more than the averga $25 commission.
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supertablebunny
Jan. 4th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
To change the actual art created? I'd consult the artist first before doing anything to the work.
(Deleted comment)
chronovox
Jan. 5th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
I would also recommend the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It contains basically everything you need to know to make it as a freelance artist / designer.
the_lest
Jan. 5th, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
I agree with what most other people are saying. However, in the case of fursuits and other costumes, I say alterations should be the responsibility of the commissioner because a) the distance between them and the suit maker and b) suits are more subject to wear and tear.

I know that wasn't what you were asking, but thought it worth mentioning.
the_lest
Jan. 5th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC)
Also plushies, jewelry, and other things of that nature (eg. things that are not just images).
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stormrunner1981
Jan. 5th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
Personally, as long as the actual line art is not modified I won't say much. Add, take away or modify colors to your liking...IF you are the one that commissioned me.

But again that is me.
lilenth
Jan. 5th, 2010 10:09 am (UTC)

The commissioner would only have recourse if their characters were trademarked/copyrighted as part of a larger whole.

Generally the artist has final say unless it's specified as work for hire or the rights are sold to the customer (which is usually a lot more expensive than many commissioners are willing to pay for).

I'd say that if there's an issue with a piece, you should speak to the artist as soon as possible. Most artists will do minor tweaks, though complete redos will probably cost you. Each artist's mileage on changes varies and you should alway check their policy/contract terms before commissioning them.
sdkitsune
Jan. 5th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Personally, I see it as this way:

There are plenty of Copyright laws. Everyone else has mentioned them, so there's no use repeating them.

But more importantly, who is stopping you from doing what you want to do? No one. Yes, you could offend an artist. Yes, you can tarnish your reputation in the furry fan-base (for example, by ending up on this community). But 99% of the time, there are no legal consequences to doing what you want with the art that's in your hand.

Now I know a few of you are bouncing around in your seats right now because "this is wrong." But you have to be logical in these sorts of situations. If a customer wants to maintain a good relationship with the artist (and with the fandom in general), it's a good idea to go through the artist and ask them what they think, no matter the time span (unless said artists is no longer part of the fandom). But there is no police officer that's going to bust through your door. And quite honestly, if a court case arises based over a $25 furry commission, the judge is going to laugh you out of the courtroom.

By posting modified work, you may violate the TOS's of websites, causing the work to be removed. So make sure to check those before doing something that's potentially against the rules.

And also, DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING. If you are an artists, spell things out for your customers. Not everyone has a PhD in copyright law. SPELL OUT "no editing, no reposting, etc etc" if you don't want that to happen. Tossing out the "common sense" excuse for someone who may have never gotten a commission before is a waste of time. And if a customer is dealing with an artist with a terrible attitude, then that's what communities like this are about. Learn BEFORE you pay who to avoid.
crssafox
Jan. 8th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
It also depends, IMO, on the scale of editing. Cropping artwork and using it as an LJ/FA icon? Pssh. Whatever, I could care less. But something a little more outrageous - say, photoshopping clothes off of a character when I don't do R-rated work, and posting it all over for people to see the *gasp* rare nudie pic (that I never did in the first place) would be -entirely- different and potentially harmful to the artist's reputation.
life_on_m
Jan. 6th, 2010 05:20 am (UTC)
Personally... I have final say on my characters.

I like my characters, and like them to be represented in manners I feel respects them. For that reason I tend to be very nervous around 'gift art'.

But as I said, that's just my personal leanings.
( 70 comments — Leave a comment )

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