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So, I need some advice on this situation. I'm not sure if it warrants an Artists Beware yet, and I'm definitely worried about the artist in question retaliating against me even more severely should the artist find out.

I had commissioned an artist to do a private drawing of my partner and I's characters together. This was to be a fully shaded and rendered commission. From the very first notes I was clear with the artist that I did not want the artwork to be posted in any of their galleries, in any way, shape, or form. The artist agreed to these terms not in just the first reply, but also the second.

I ended up cancelling the commission at the lineart stage due to poor quality work and anatomy.

The exact same day that I cancel the commission, I find the lineart up in the artist's gallery as a YCH auction.

The artist changed the species and appearance of my partner's character but not mine. While the anatomy is so poor that it's probably hard to recognize mine, I was very upset by this and told the artist to remove the image. After confronting the artist I get my partial refund immediately. (The artist said they wouldn't give refunds for "work already done".)

The artist replied saying that the privacy only applied to the *finished* image and so they could "do whatever they want with it". However in no way, shape, or form did the artist ever inform me of that, it seems as though they decided "terms apply to final image only" AFTER I'd decided to cancel it.

I don't really think there's anything I can do at this point. I thought about demanding a full refund, but I feel like that will make the artist even more vengeful and they'll decide to post the other character as well, instead of the placeholder one.

So...was what that artist did out of line? What would you do in my place?

I even thought about paying the artist back, assuming I'd get the "rights" to the image back, but due to how it ended on such a sour note I don't think that's going to work either, and the quality is so awful that I don't want to give that artist a dime more.

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2017 06:26 pm (UTC)
This is sticky indeed.

Strictly from how this business in this fandom works: They can't reuse the art. It's yours. You paid for the work done, and therefore whether you like the art itself or not it's yours.

If they had issued you a full refund, then they absolutely would be entitled to reuse their own work how they see fit. It wouldn't matter if you asked for the piece to be private; so long as they issued you a full refund they could repurpose it.

As it stands they did not. They owe you a full refund if this is the case.
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:00 pm (UTC)
It comes down to payment, which you're not clarifying. Did you pay at all... half?
Did they keep the full payment, or they refunded you partially or fully?

If you cancelled but the artist kept the payment or half of it, then the lineart done is yours and it's worth a beware if they are reselling it.

However if you didn't get to pay, or you got fully refunded when you cancelled the commission, then the artist is in all right to use the discarded work into another commission or YCH.
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:04 pm (UTC)
They did say the artist only gave them a partial refund and kept payment for the work that was completed:
"After confronting the artist I get my partial refund immediately. (The artist said they wouldn't give refunds for "work already done".)"
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:10 pm (UTC)
Then the paying back the artist means to pay the other half, I think I understand now.

In that case my second line would apply, and the artist is reselling a piece that was paid for. I'd suggest asking the artist to desist from using the unfinished piece or it'll result in a beware, or issue a full refund so they can YCH it freely.
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:03 pm (UTC)
Gonna second what Celestinaketzia said. Artists can repurpose art to recoup losses in instances where there is actually a loss, but in this instance, there isn't. They kept payment for work done, therefore they've lost nothing and have no right to reuse the art. If they want to do that, they definitely need to refund the rest of your money.

I also find it repugnant that they didn't even issue you the partial refund until *after* you confronted them about the lineart being in their gallery.
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your reply!

A refund is definitely out of the question, I don't want to give up my rights to the image, so to speak.

Would it be a good idea to note the artist with a warning, that if they don't remove it soon I'll issue a beware about them? I feel like that's the only bargaining tool I have in this case, unless there's some rules on FurAffinity (where the image is posted) that prevents this sort of behavior.
Jul. 5th, 2017 07:10 pm (UTC)
If you had gotten a FULL refund then they could reuse the lineart for whatever they wanted, but since you essentially paid for the lineart what they're doing is in extremely poor taste.

You paid for the lineart - them re-selling it without any agreement that they are allowed to do this is worthy of a beware in my opinion.

I would not want to commission this person if they're just going to reuse the art I paid for. It's double-dipping.
Jul. 7th, 2017 12:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for the reply! Although according to Trunchbull, the artist retains all the rights to the drawing. =/

But regardless of copyright law and all of that, I completely agree with you and I feel as though it is very dishonest and double dipping.

Luckily, the image was removed yesterday, so I'm incredibly happy about that. It's a terrible shame that this all happened, though. But since the matter was resolved I don't need to write a beware I don't think.
Jul. 5th, 2017 08:00 pm (UTC)
My question is what does the *artist's* terms of service say? When you commission an artist, you are not merely agreeing to terms that *you* have specified, but also to terms that *they* have specified.

If the *artist's* terms of service allow the artist to reuse the work in the way that they have claimed, then you actually don't have the standing to complain as much as you are.

Also, the artist retains rights to the *picture.* It is *your character* that you retain the rights to. Every commissioning artist I have ever dealt with has made that stipulation. *They* get to decide where the art is posted, not you, and if they want to use the art itself again, that actually *is* their choice. The only time it isn't their choice is when they try to use your character without your permission.
Jul. 5th, 2017 08:07 pm (UTC)
Wow! I think the artist removed it. So I can consider the situation resolved.

Edit: I double checked and the artist doesn't have a clear TOS. The only thing the artist says is that you can't remove their watermark on the completed image. Otherwise, we'd had an agreement over notes. Exact words, in not one, but two separate notes:
"Hi! I'm fine with that, I can do the commission just for your view." and "If you do not want my work to be posted publicly that's totally fine with me. :)"

Maybe the lack of a clear TOS is something to be suspicious of when choosing an artist to commission? I'll definitely keep that in mind in the future.

Edited at 2017-07-07 12:29 am (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2017 08:14 pm (UTC)
Or if you specifically make an agreement/contract and pay the artist for the complete rights of the resulting artwork, of course. I've done this myself, and it usually comes up when hiring an artist to do something with logos or other artwork that may be transformed/reproduced a bunch.

Most artists will still honour an informal agreement about the reproduction rights of a picture without payment, because let's be honest, it's not cool to say one thing and then do another - but usually posting rights is something that remains with the artist unless otherwise discussed or compensated for, yeah.
Jul. 7th, 2017 12:31 am (UTC)
Well, I'd told the artist in this case that I didn't want it posted in their gallery, and they'd agreed to those terms. So even though the artist had the posting rights, I don't appreciate that they did that.
Jul. 5th, 2017 08:16 pm (UTC)
That'd be pretty shady to allow wiggle room to reuse art that's been paid for. The client has only been given a partial refund.
Jul. 6th, 2017 04:57 am (UTC)
You werent given a full refund so the image is still 'yours' so to speak. They cannot reuse or re purpose it, and them trying to, imo, warrants a beware.

If they gave you a full refund they can do as they please to recoup the loss, but it seems it was partial, so, they cannot.
Jul. 6th, 2017 03:41 pm (UTC)
Just because you were offered a partial refund does not mean you own any of the actual art. The artist did not sell the copyright of the art to you. They are allowed to reuse the lineart so long as your character itself is not profited off of. Even if the image is completed, the artist does have the legal rights to reuse or repurpose the image, and even further profit off of it, as they did NOT sell the copyright to you [and that alone requires a contract to be signed]. Regardless of if it's your character or not, your character is not trademarked [nor will it ever be considering the legal requirements to do so]; however, at that point, it becomes ethically unacceptable most of the time, in the furry community. They do not owe you a full refund, either, as they did do the work, but you requested the refund.

You have every right to request an image takedown, but the artist is under no obligation to take it down, especially seeing as you yourself stated that your character isn't very recogniseable. Nor does the artist actually need to inform you, as again, you don't own the rights to the image. It would have been nice to know, but they have no obligations.

I have used commission sketches that were rejected by the commissioner as YCH slots, and no one has ever commented on who the characters in the sketch may have resembled, for the furry community is a huge place, and there are many characters that end up looking like others.

One can say "but it's not fair/right!" but ethics and morals vary from person to person and regardless of whether you think it's fair or not, the artist hasn't done anything 'wrong', aside from, perhaps, poor communication or poor behaviour in handling the situation. But, seeing as there is no log of your communication with them, one can only assume.

edit: sorry for all the editing, mods :V

Edited at 2017-07-06 03:48 pm (UTC)
Jul. 7th, 2017 12:49 am (UTC)
I understand not being entitled to a full refund, I didn't really want to pursue that anyway despite what happened. The artist still did the work after all, even if it wasn't work I was happy with.

I've commissioned plenty of artists over the last few years and every single one of them has honored my request for certain images not to be posted publicly, or that if it is lineart only, that the character's defining features be removed so that it's just a featureless outline. I don't feel like that's an undue hardship to abide by, and I've even paid higher prices than normal for particular pieces to compensate artists for publicity they may have gotten from having the art on display.

So, I do understand from your post that by strict copyright law / trademark law / etc, I don't have any legal rights to the image. There were a couple of features on the lineart though that could have made someone think, "Hey, I think this is (character)", and that's the main thing I wasn't comfortable with.

I guess more than being an issue of copyright, my main problem with this whole situation was the artist breaking our agreed-upon terms, which to me is very dishonest and in bad form.

((As for communication logs, 99% of the communication was simply discussing the details of the commission, changes, etc, and it was quite lengthy, the key point is we had the agreement...and also that the artist said my refund would "Be made within 7 days", after I'd cancelled the rest of the work. Yet, when I posted the takedown request (the same day), my refund was issued immediately. I don't know, that seemed a bit odd...I wonder if they'd have actually refunded me at all if I hadn't complained.))

Edited at 2017-07-07 12:51 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 7th, 2017 08:49 pm (UTC)
1. Yeah, always be wary of an artist that has no real ToS. Mine probably isn't that great, but at least it's a good effort.

2. Playing devil's advocate here by pointing out that the OP's character might have been a very simple design (red fox, for example) and their partner's character more uniquely complex (a four-winged werewolf with ram horns and a scorpion tail, for a really out there example) so that there was need to change the partner's character but no need to change the OP's. Since we have no visual help, we can only assume.

3. As an artist who has a ways to go with anatomy and such, I can say the most important thing is customer service. Make someone enjoy getting their art from you and they're less likely to see the art as poor quality and will associate it positively. Alienating/disrespecting customers can ruin you fast.

Also, you might want to add "n't" to that first is.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:24 pm (UTC)
But what's actually the worst an artist can retaliate with?

I mean, if the artist has a fanbase he could sic on the "evil" customer then it might be understandable. It could also backfire though if the customer manages to defend himself.

Edited at 2017-07-07 10:25 pm (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2017 10:13 am (UTC)
RE: 2. - I actually want to interject that I am familiar with OP's character, and if I were to see art of said character I would recognize it. The design and species, even if uncoloured, is not something people see every day and I do believe it would stand out (probably mostly to those familiar with the character) :/

ETA: same with the partner's character.

Edited at 2017-07-08 10:14 am (UTC)
Jul. 9th, 2017 12:35 am (UTC)
Again, since the characters in question haven't been revealed in any way, there's no way for non-friends/fans to know this.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 9th, 2017 03:02 pm (UTC)
However most often than not those tend to always backfire. hence tarnishing the artist reputation for it. Considering stuff tends to scare away future customers.
Jul. 9th, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Im currently dealing with this right now, as an artist that scammed me is dragging me through the mud, and because they are leaving out the scam parts their friends are believing them and Im getting the backlash.
Jul. 9th, 2017 10:06 pm (UTC)
Beware time.
Jul. 9th, 2017 10:24 pm (UTC)
Ive actually submitted an advice post on it and leaning close to a beware even though I told them I wouldnt.
Jul. 9th, 2017 11:05 pm (UTC)
I would just do it since at this rate it's only going to get worse at this rate from what you said.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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