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Need advice on a strange situation!

Hey guys!  I have a strange situation that I need some advice on.  On June 6th I had a client contact me via e-mail, wanting me to draw an anthro version of a feral character of theirs.  Everything proceeded as normal, and I finished and delivered the commission on August 7th.

However, a few days after I posted the finished image, I was informed that the character in fact belonged to someone completely different.  The client attached the same exact ref sheet as was linked to me in the email, only with the name removed, so it seems likely to me that they "stole" the character and then commissioned me to get art of it.  They paid for my most expensive commission tier, and didn't issue any chargebacks, so as far as I can tell they weren't trying to scam me.  They just wanted art of a character that wasn't theirs, which strikes me as really weird.

What would you guys suggest in a situation like this?  I sent the actual owner of the character the fullsize version of the commission as a courtesy, and my plan was just to ask the client about the whole ordeal.  Is there anything else I should do?  What about copyright issues?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts.  :)

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Christina Schandorph
Aug. 14th, 2015 09:24 pm (UTC)
I think it was a nice gesture to send the original owner the picture :)

I think the best you can do for now is let the owner deal with the thief and not get involved with the situation. If the picture was posted online, perhaps ask the original owner if they would prefer the art removed or the character credited to them in the description or something.
Aug. 14th, 2015 10:10 pm (UTC)
I'm leaning towards apologizing to the character's owner (which it sounds like you've already done, kudos for giving them the art as well), and then letting the owner and the client deal with it themselves. You only did what you were asked and payed to do in good faith. You don't know what kind of past/current situation exists between those two people, if any, and a third party jumping in never ends well.

Yes, there are people out there who will commission art of characters that do not belong to them, without the owner's permission and not for cases like commissioning art for a friend/SO. Yes, this is an intellectual property issue, and imho a rather creepy moral one as well. There's only so much an artist can do to check for ownership--check the commissioner's gallery, google the character to see what pops up, etc--and in a perfect world you wouldn't have to. Just do the best you can, and if you find you've made a mistake, apologize and do what you can to make things right.

Edited at 2015-08-14 10:12 pm (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2015 10:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, I feel you've done all you need to do already. The owner of the character knows what's up, and it's between them to work it out, now.
Aug. 14th, 2015 10:46 pm (UTC)
This. In addition the copyright to the art is still yours unless you signed it away. In that regard the two parties need to figure that out. I'd personally talk to the client and see about blacklisting if they make a habit of this.
Aug. 14th, 2015 10:59 pm (UTC)
You have done all you need to do, save possibly blacklisting this commissioner if you want. Characters (generally) have no protection under copyright law. Anything covering characters is under intellectual property rights.

(Which is why (Character) (c) (owner) isn't proper form and people need to stop using it, ffs. You don't even -have- to credit characters that aren't protected under trademark laws, it's just a courtesy. TM characters are a whole other thing.)

Copyright in the case of most fandom commissions is related strictly to the art itself, which means unless you, the artist, sold/gave away the rights, you retain them. You can at any point go "I don't want you/anyone to repost my work anymore without my express written consent/at all," and take whatever steps you need to remove that art, and you are well within your rights as the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: Not a lawyer. Just studied this way too much.
Aug. 14th, 2015 11:36 pm (UTC)
I had this happen for an entire animation I was commissioned, at the times $15 a frame for a 30 frame sequence. The client told presented me the character under the guise that it was theirs only for me to find out far later down the line it was someone elses. I did much the same, I contacted the owner of the character to verify if it was them who had commissioned me. I gave them the animation and all the frames and ceased business with the commissioner as I could no longer trust they weren't just going to ask me for more characters that weren't theirs.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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