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Advice needed for selling prints!

Hey guys! I have a question regarding selling prints of artwork I have done, but as commissions.

Is it legal for me to do this? And is this commonly done? Does this look bad on me as an artist? I haven't ever sold prints before, so I really have no idea. I haven't sold the customer the copyright to the image, just charged them for rendering the image like is typically done. Some of my commission pieces I would like to sell as prints at a future con because they turned out really well.

(I would obviously ask the commissioner if it's okay with them, since it's their fursona in the picture.)

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( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 5th, 2013 01:10 am (UTC)
You still have all rights to the image you created and you can legally sell prints of the images.

I've seen a lot of artists around who do sell prints of commissioned work.
Dec. 5th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
You are the owner of the actual art. It is under your copyright, you can make prints to sell if you wish to, unless the client actually went through the process of trademarking their characters.

Its only "morally shaky" (at least in the furry art world) simply because people are crazily attached to their characters and also many are under the incorrect assumption that paying for the service means they get everything (rights to the image, etc)... I have heard of clients demanding royalties for whatever profit is made off of prints featuring their characters and its bananas.

You seem already prepared to ask the clients for permission, which is a very polite thing for you to do, but at the end of the day... again, the art is yours as it is your copyright.
Dec. 5th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
As the above have said, unless you sold the rights to the image, you are absolutely able to sell prints of any commissions you make.

Personally out of courtesy (and to avoid bad blood) I tend to ask clients first if they mind. It's not necessary, but it's polite and most people are pretty lenient when asked politely. An alternative that I've done in the past too is having it as a point in my Terms of Service stating that I may choose to make prints to sell of any commission work I create. My ToS requires a mandatory check box stating the client agrees to my terms, so if they check that box and submit them I'm good to go, and if they don't, I'd be declining the commission anyways.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - kalika_tybera - Dec. 5th, 2013 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
It's a-okay as mentioned above.
Most artists have it in their TOS that they can use the images in prints, or art CDs.
Dec. 5th, 2013 02:54 am (UTC)
Thank you everyone! It seems to be a pretty general consensus, that I'm allowed to, it's commonly done, but it would be polite to ask the person who commissioned me.

I will be adding a new clause to my TOS, as well :]
Thanks again!
Dec. 5th, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
Echoing everyone else, ABSOLUTELY you are within your rights. The rights to the image are yours, never the commissioner, unless you specifically set a work for hire contract or sold the rights.

What Oceandezignz said is absolutely true as well- furries in particular become very very attached to their characters, and many commissioners are quite uneducated in that matter, furry or otherwise. That's fine, if they take issue with it or are confused about their rights, you just educate them on it, no big deal.

As a result, if you don't already have a TOS, make one, include a portion talking about your rights to create prints, etc of any work you create, and make sure every client agrees to it before proceeding. At that point, they can ask questions, and you won't be stuck having to chase people down and make sure they're okay with you doing something you have full rights to do in the first place, out of common courtesy.
Dec. 5th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Echoing, it's pretty much safe to say you own the rights to the art and can use it for prints and resell. However, it might be nice to at least contact the folks who's characters you plan to resell and let them know.

Personally I offer a free print of the work to commissioners, if I plan to resell it, so they get a little boost for me liking their commission enough to use it in my rotation of art sales. So far 100% of the people I approach and let know are fine with it, but to avoid any epic blow out, make it clear in your TOS you have the right to reprint and sell art, and/or contact commissioners about your reselling of printed copies.
Dec. 5th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
This is a great idea! I'll definitely plan on sending the customer a print of their piece if I plan on selling the piece (after obtaining their permission for any that were done before my updated TOS). Thanks :3
Dec. 5th, 2013 04:33 am (UTC)
This is absolutely fine and a very common practice. Most of the full time furry artists do just that. I'd suggest putting it in your TOS from now on though, just to make it clear to future customers.
Dec. 5th, 2013 05:44 am (UTC)
You own the art but you do not own the character involved in the art.

So I feel like it's not legal. You may have drawn it, but you don't have license to sell prints without getting usage rights of the character first.

Try contacting the character owners to see if they are okay with it.
Dec. 5th, 2013 05:48 am (UTC)
If the character isn't trademarked, or if the rights to the image itself were not initially given away or sold, there's no reason to talk "Usage Rights".

The copyright of the artist is what counts.

But as its already been established, its good to either ask or have a TOS that outlines that prints of commissioned work may happen.
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 06:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolf_goat - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolf_goat - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 5th, 2013 10:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 5th, 2013 10:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - enter_data_here - Dec. 5th, 2013 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tealmoonxiv - Dec. 6th, 2013 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 5th, 2013 10:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 5th, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vellacraptor - Dec. 6th, 2013 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aeto - Dec. 5th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tealmoonxiv - Dec. 5th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2013 09:22 am (UTC)
Perfectly acceptable and common practice - but put it in your ToS anyway so you have some backup.

I've only once had issues from someone about it (last year) and this was because they had not properly read the ToS. As a good will gesture (they were a repeat customer, but this was the only art that had made it to print) I stated no further prints of that piece would be made but was sure to point out that the ToS would apply in future.
Dec. 5th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
I seem to be of a minority opinion here, ahah

I don't really think it's right unless you stated up front that your art would be used like that. Yes, you have the rights, but it's kind of more of a common courtesy to be sure that the commissioner is aware of it.
Dec. 5th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
It did seem a little fishy to me, but I saw a ton of other artists doing it at the latest con I attended.

I think I'll probably just ask the person whose piece(s) I chose, offer to send them a print free of charge, and hope they give me permission haha.
Dec. 5th, 2013 04:03 pm (UTC)
It's legal, but unless it was in your tos I'd ask to be polite.
Dec. 5th, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC)
I'll also add a minority opinion... If you are creating art based on a character sheet you got from them, it's derivative work, this is potentially covered under both the copyright of the original work as well as the copyright of the artist.

It's not a matter of work for hire, which is a hard bar to reach, but one of derivative work. It's the same reason you can't draw something which is obviously a Disney character and legally sell the art. It's derivative of their copyrighted art.

Even if they don't give you concept art, the description is copyrighted, and even basing on that could be considered derivative work.

I believe it's the same thing as photos of costumes: to do anything with them, you need both permission of the photographer and costume owner.
Dec. 5th, 2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
Not really, no. Your example only works if the character is copyrighted or trademarked, like with Disney. However, pretty sure most furries do not have a copyright or trademark on their character. Only the art on the reference sheet is copyrighted, not the actual design.

If the designs were copyrightable on the spot, furries would be suing other furries left and right all the time.
(no subject) - aeto - Dec. 5th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 6th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 5th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
Putting this all into a whole new comment thread since I am unsure which to respond to with it.

Work is considered "work for hire" if it meets certain guidelines. One of those guidelines is "supplementary work"

The Copyright Act defines a supplementary work as something prepared to go with another work created by another author, to introduce or conclude that work, to illustrate, explain or revise that work, or to comment upon the work or assist others in using it.

Because it is work meant to go with work already created (my character and the art I have drawn of it), and is meant to illustrate a certain scene described by the commissioner, it is considered work for hire.

And as such, unless specifically agreed upon by both parties, the work that was paid to produce, belongs to the commissioner.

As such, its remains the commissioners sole property and copyrighted work. To distribute it without their consent and terms would be illegal and frowned upon. I know this is common practice to do regardless, but it does not make it right. End of the day, these are the laws, and we have to adhere to them.

I understand that artists are protective of their work and do not like the idea of something they draw not belonging to them, but laws are laws.
Dec. 5th, 2013 10:52 pm (UTC)
"Work for hire" only applies if I am an employee of the individual who had me do the piece. I am not an employee of theirs. I am a freelance artist.

For example, if I worked for an animation studio and animated an ENTIRE movie all by myself, I would still own none of the movie. The studio would own all of it, since I was an employee of the studio.

Since I am not an employee of any of my clients, the "work for hire" laws do not apply at all. Therefore your entire argument is invalid.
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nisaetus - Dec. 6th, 2013 04:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thecreativepen - Dec. 6th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fawkatronic - Dec. 6th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - neolucky - Dec. 6th, 2013 07:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thecreativepen - Dec. 6th, 2013 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Dec. 6th, 2013 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roxyfur - Dec. 5th, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kontinue - Dec. 6th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thecreativepen - Dec. 7th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 6th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
I would just ask the commissioner first, and if they say it's okay, then I don't see any issue with it. If they say no or don't respond, just don't out of curtsey. Of course, you can legally do so anyway, it's well within your rights. But some people are really attached to their characters and may be uncomfortable with images of them being sold to random people everywhere, so I personally wouldn't do it unless I made sure the commissioner was cool with it.

Edited at 2013-12-06 06:37 pm (UTC)
Dec. 6th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
Those were my thoughts exactly, after reading up about my technical rights. Thanks :]
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