About copyright

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Razka
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About copyright

#1 Post by Razka » Mon Feb 03, 2020 9:52 pm

I'm sorry if these will be "easy" questions but I'm having an hard time googling them because they're pretty specific.
Let's say I commission an artist to draw my characters, that nobody's ever drawn before, ever. They only exists in my mind and in my text files. Wikipedia says:
Copyright protection is available to the creators of a range of works including literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works. Recognition of fictional characters as works eligible for copyright protection has come about with the understanding that characters can be separated from the original works they were embodied in and acquire a new life by featuring in subsequent works.
Do I qualify as the character creator because they're my characters, or does the artist get credit for it?
And what if he wants to print some of those characters and sell t-shirts: does he get to do that implicitly, or some kind of agreement is needed?
What about music? Do I own an OST if I'm paying for it? I see a big difference between music and drawing, because I'll say "My character is blonde, with the anime pointy tooth and bathes in the blood of her enemies", but I can't give such directions about music.

Can someone enlighten me or link me to some sources?

P.s. Lawyers are not in the budget right now, so there's that.

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Re: About copyright

#2 Post by foleso » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:12 pm

Normally, the artist retains copyright and provides you a license to use it. The terms of use should be discussed between you and the artist. In these cases, the artist is credited as the owner and creator.

You could also get a copyright transfer This means the artist no longer has any legal claim to the artwork. This usually costs more, but gives you the ability to have full rights over the art. The artist is still the creator, but you can choose whether to credit them or not.

This applies for both music and art. Full disclosure: I am not a lawyer.

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Re: About copyright

#3 Post by Razka » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:39 pm

Very helpful to know, thanks a lot.
I'll be sure and discuss this matter with the artist beforehand.

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Re: About copyright

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:08 pm

There are actually two possibilities here.

One is as explained above, the artist is the "creator" and licenses the work to you.
You however, retain the rights to the character.
https://www.dacs.org.uk/knowledge-base/ ... oned-works

The other is where the artist was hired to create the content for you as a job, in which case the contract will specify the ownership belongs to the company (you) and not the illustrator via a transfer of IP rights agreement.
https://legalvision.com.au/intellectual ... agreement/

Personally, I'd consult with an actual lawyer.
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Re: About copyright

#5 Post by Elsa Kisiel » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:29 pm

foleso wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:12 pm
You could also get a copyright transfer This means the artist no longer has any legal claim to the artwork. This usually costs more, but gives you the ability to have full rights over the art. The artist is still the creator, but you can choose whether to credit them or not.
Warning: In some countries, copyright transfer are not legally allowed. (However, you can still buy licenses in order to be able to use it freely. The only thing you can't buy in countries like mine are the moral rights: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights)
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Re: About copyright

#6 Post by GNVE » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:39 pm

Elsa Kisiel wrote:
Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:29 pm
Warning: In some countries, copyright transfer are not legally allowed. (However, you can still buy licenses in order to be able to use it freely. The only thing you can't buy in countries like mine are the moral rights: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights)
That would be one of those exclusive worldwide licences with a lot of other blanket statements that functionally means they transfer the copyright to someone else.

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Re: About copyright

#7 Post by ISAWHIM » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:01 pm

Since you can't copyright "concepts", or "non-tangible" (physical things), the answer is "no", you can not claim the copyrights to something you didn't actually create, except within your mind. There is no possible "proof", that you created it in your mind.

Plus... Tablets and cell-phones and flying cars were all "imagined", by everyone... Only those who physically created, or have obtained rights to a tangible creation, are legally entitled to claim ownership of them.

Yes, you can copyright the works you had commissioned for you, but so can the actual creator. Unless you had them sign a legal document, or had some explicit legal agreement otherwise, they could not legally register the art for ownership rights. Well, they could, but you could fight it, and win, most-likely. If all your ducks were in a row. (This is how many businesses get to claim YOUR works. The law states that THEY have rights over anything YOU create, while being paid by them. Or, if you created it using supplies that they provided.)

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Re: About copyright

#8 Post by PassiveChicken » Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:29 pm

Safest and very best bet: just communicate with the artist that the commission is for a commercial work and pay for the rights. A lot of artists have a different rate for personal and commercial works, so just keep the receipt to show that yes, you own the copyright to the image and design.

The vast majority of artists, especially here, are well aware that when they create art for someone's VN that it belongs to the commissioner. Communication is the key
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Re: About copyright

#9 Post by papillon » Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:53 pm

You own the characters. Hiring an artist to draw them does not mean that they suddenly own those characters.

It is still a good idea to have contracts spelling out that you own the IP and that they are creating work-for-hire for you.

If you hire an artist to paint your character and send you the digital scan of it, the artist generally still has the right to sell the original physical painting they made. They do not have the right to make a whole bunch of new paintings of that character and sell those, not unless you reached an agreement to that effect.
Since you can't copyright "concepts", or "non-tangible"
Copyright is entirely about non-tangible things! You're mixing up many different types of legal rights here... tablets and flying cars have nothing to do with copyright, you're thinking of patent law.

Intellectual property is very much a thing.

Original poster: I hope this demonstrates that asking a random forum for legal advice is... not going to give you the most reliable results. Many of us are in different countries which may have different legal structures. Many of us have never dealt with lawyers, or have only dealt with lawyers in very specific circumstances that may not apply to you.

Don't assume that any individual answer that seems good is the right one, even mine!

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Re: About copyright

#10 Post by LeetMusic » Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:42 pm

What governing body is realistically capable of providing enforcement for any kind of legal disagreement issue in this field, especially when parties are in other countries and the amount of money is only 3-4 figures ($USD)? It seems like contracts are worth nothing but your reputation is worth everything (if you intend to stick around.)

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Re: About copyright

#11 Post by Milkymalk » Mon May 04, 2020 6:09 am

If you design a character (with detailed description and/or an amateurish sketch) and pay an artist to draw it, you retain copyright to that character while the artist has the copyright to that image, unless a contract saying otherwise exists.
If an artist designs a character for you ("Design a mage for me!"), the likeness of that character belongs to the artist.

As soon as you intend to use something commissioned for a game or whatever, you should make a contract before anything is actually done or paid, and that contract should clearly state what you are allowed to do. When in doubt, include it, or use most inclusive language ("the, unless otherwise stated, exclusive rights to use, modify and adapt the image commercially and non-commercially in any way"). Also clearly state if and to what extent (x days after game release, size, where) the artist may still show the image. Unless it's a key image and showing it outside the game would constitute a massive spoiler, there's little to say against allowing the artist to show it in their portfolio.

There are probably blanko contracts for that kind of thing; otherwise, get a copyrights lawyer to set one up for you (or pull it out of their drawer) and use it for all of your artists.
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