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I've recently heard of an artist who is selling prints that contains other people's characters. The art and style is her own, and the art with characters are either gifts or commissions. The prints for sale include the original piece uploaded to art sites, without any recoloring or hiding others' characters. Should people buy these prints, it's basically making money off of others' designs, right?

It's not okay, right? Is it legal? Rude? Or just frowned upon?

How should someone handle this kind of situation if the artist in question is a friend?

Any advice, A_B?

Edit: Thanks everyone for your very useful replies! :)
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 57 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
the artist still owns the rights to their work, unless they worked something else out with the commissioner
Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
If the art belongs to the artist then it doesn't matter if other people's characters are in it, correct me if I'm wrong. The artist retains the rights and they can do with it what they wish, unless of course the artist and commissioner work something out.
Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
I sell prints of commissions/trades/gifts I've done. I even explain in my TOS I do because it keeps my prices cheap. I've never had anyone have an issue and I give them a free print if I come across them at cons. If you're worried, ask the people it's for before selling a print.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
I sell prints of commissions/trades/gifts I've done. I even explain in my TOS I do because it keeps my prices cheap.

This is exactly how I work. I've only had a few people* that were not okay with it, and I worked something out with them and I don't sell prints of their commissions.
(*Referring to private, individual commissions. I always negotiate image rights independently on pro freelance via contact)
Dec. 22nd, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)

Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:12 am (UTC)
It's within artists rights to do so, unless the customer has purchased full rights (which requires a contract).

I have this in my TOS:
I reserve the right to use any image I create as I see fit. I retain all rights to the image.
This includes, but is not limited to, producing and selling prints or portfolios (print, digital or CD) and/or posting to my online galleries. I retain full commercial and distribution rights on any image I produce.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:25 am (UTC)
As far as I know even if it's someone else's character, they are basically signing "trademarked" rights over to said artist for creative license and commons.
All artwork produced by said artist is theirs fully and legally unless otherwise stated through legal binding contract. And said rights to most artists art is and should be on a higher pay scale then most personal based client commissions.

Even if you were to pay the artist for the picture of your character and then turn around and trademark said character and so on. Legally you handed over those said usage rights when you paid the artist to draw said character.

Is using commissioned pictures in bad form? I don't personally think so. Artists especially ones who work private commissioner/personal based are always in need of extra funds and a great way to bring in extra revenue is those prints.

I have a clause in my TOS also stating that I hold all rights to said artwork I produce and am able to redistribute as I see fit. I do not claim any said character, but claim full rights to my work including distribution.

Edited for typo

Edited at 2012-12-23 12:27 am (UTC)
Stina Paulin Hjgaard
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
Personally I'm very glad to see such a detailed post about this subject as it has been on my mind as well if this was allowed or not. I can see how commissions should/is allowed to be sold of by the artist.

However my worry is gift art. If someone uses one of my characters as gift art for me as a birthday gift, Christmas present or just a simple cheering up gift, without me knowing about it, are/should they be allowed/have the rights to sell that as a print as well?
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Dec. 23rd, 2012 01:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nambroth - Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nambroth - Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nambroth - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Dec. 23rd, 2012 07:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Stina Paulin Hjgaard - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Stina Paulin Hjgaard - Dec. 23rd, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Dec. 23rd, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Stina Paulin Hjgaard - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerstin_orion - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Stina Paulin Hjgaard - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Copyright - bluestar20337 - Jan. 25th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Copyright - oceandezignz - Jan. 26th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Stina Paulin Hjgaard - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
Unless something else is arranged, Its within the artist's right.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:28 am (UTC)
As others have stated, the commissioner with the character is only paying for a service (drawing, traditionally or digitally) from the artist and have no rights aside from those the artist gives them with the purchase of said commission. Unless the artist is claiming these characters/designs to be entirely their own then that'd be something different.

So yeah they can sell prints of others commissions, though I'd like to be asked before this is done just for the sake of knowing so incidents like a friend seeing a commission of mine up for sale somewhere and telling me someone stole my commission or something and a shit storm begins to brew without knowing the details.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - radcatastrophe - Dec. 30th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - Dec. 31st, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - radcatastrophe - Dec. 31st, 2012 01:37 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:31 am (UTC)
Going to echo the replies so far, even if it's not cleared stated in a TOS, the artist can sell printed copies of the artwork they do on commission.

Personally I will always ask commissioners first before selling prints, or arrange for a print to be given for free to the buyer in exchange for allowing me to sell copies. But this is not something that one should expect from any artists unless you plan to pony up a lot of cash for printing rights to be kept with the buyer.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
Unless the commissioner payed beaucoup bucks for the rights, or stuff was negotiated prior, then they can.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
Agreeing with everyone here, it's the artists right to do so.

However, it leaves a bad taste in a lot of commissioners mouth. When it comes to furry artwork at least, people are very attached to their characters and many don't actually understand that the artist keeps the rights.

So it's totally up to the artist what they want to do, but I'm sure many commissioner would appreciate being asked. But as others said, this is not required at all.
Dec. 23rd, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
This! Essentially it's completely legal to do, but it's only good form to make sure that your clients are aware.

As a client, I'd appreciate to know beforehand (like in their ToS) if an artist tends to sell prints of their work and if my commission could end up being distributed that way. It being sold without my knowledge would irk me slightly. As long as I know about it I'd personally give my blessing and probably want to buy one myself!
(no subject) - houndofloki - Dec. 27th, 2012 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
Take a look at all the artists who're selling work featuring My Little Pony characters. In general they're not given the rights the intellectual property. Typically people at fan conventions over look this. In general, if the creator of a character grants permission or other wise consents to having it featured and sold by an artist that is fine. The issue is when permission or consent is not granted.

If you are planning on doing this, talk to whoever has their characters featured in your work, or if someone is selling art featuring your characters.

I hope this helps!
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
MLP and other characters as part of shows/ movies/ novels etc. are a whole different beast than your average every day OC.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:30 am (UTC)
If you're upset by someone exercising their rights, I would suggest you ask people before hand if they sell prints of commissions and try and work out something if they do. Also check their ToS for any mention of prints.

You're well within your rights as the creator of work to not sell prints, but your everyday OC is not copyrightable and one can't keep an artist from doing what they wish. Is it good form to ask clients or inform them? Absolutely. Is it necessary? No.
(no subject) - oceandezignz - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oceandezignz - Dec. 23rd, 2012 04:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bayru - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 24th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bayru - Dec. 24th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bayru - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
This is just my opinion...

While it is totally within the artist's rights to sell prints of commissions (as explained by a lot of people before this comment), I personally feel that it's not a good practice to do so in small fandoms (like furry, etc.)

Not only does it cause unnecessary drama with those customers who don't understand copyright, I honestly don't believe there is that big of a market to purchase prints of other people's OCs. Most people want custom art of their own characters, not pictures of other people's creations. If the art is generic enough (basic red fox, typical western dragon), then I could see a demand, but very few people want pictures of hybrid wolfhippoferrets with bizarre color schemes.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - marymouse - Dec. 23rd, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolf_goat - Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
As others have said, you're within your rights to sell prints of art featuring other characters. But to save any potential drama, it's always a good plan to put it clearly in your TOS that you reserve the right to do so, and asking commissioners to discuss it with you beforehand if they aren't happy with the idea.
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