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Thread: Buying rights to use existing image

  1. #1
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    Buying rights to use existing image

    Say you find a work of art you'd like for your cover, and offer to pay the artist for the right to use it. If they agree, is this generally considered a good idea or frowned upon?

  2. #2
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    It's a good idea. But you still need a contract.

  3. #3
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    Yeah, I think it's a great idea. I fell in love with a photo by a Dutch photographer. His rates towered above my stack of money, but it was a pleasant enough conversation and an education on how these things work.

    If the artist agrees, just make sure it's spelled out what rights you have to use the work - what formats (on line, in print, if there are any limits to the number of reproductions you can use, etc.) and that sort of thing.

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    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    If you're going to using the image on a printed cover, make sure it's high enough resolution.

    I'd also suggest hiring a designer to produce the cover.

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  5. #5
    That hairy-handed gent
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    A lot of artists these days, and especially commercial photographers, license the use of their images for a standard fee.

    caw
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    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    If its a good picture for the purpose, and you have the right to use it, that is all that really matters.

  7. #7
    That hairy-handed gent
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    If its a good picture for the purpose, and you have the right to use it, that is all that really matters.
    The bolded above is all that really matters. Really.

    caw
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    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

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  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW Defos's Avatar
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    When I create art as a commission for others I usually make sure I gift ownership of the work to the customer and its noted in the terms. I know most still like to keep intellectual rights but it just feels wrong. If its a set of concepts that I work on separate and someone wants it then that's a different story.

  9. #9
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defos View Post
    When I create art as a commission for others I usually make sure I gift ownership of the work to the customer and its noted in the terms. I know most still like to keep intellectual rights but it just feels wrong. If its a set of concepts that I work on separate and someone wants it then that's a different story.
    You're give away all intellectual rights? So that would include the right to create derivatives of your property or to re-sell the work privately or in mass for commercial purposes such as distribution and sale on a stock site. How much are you charging for this sweet deal?

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Defos's Avatar
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    If its a painting or sculpture the customer takes the lot, they can turn it into a kite and fly it away if they need. I'd hope they didn't though.

    Or

    If its their character designs then it belongs to them anyway.

    If a model and a rig is requested, designed from the ground up; concept sketches, paintings, sculptures or animations completed then its a tad different. In this instance I would have first choice if it was to be expanded or worked on again.

    The work I'm doing now is all my own ... All mine! ... My precioussss ...

  11. #11
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    My question is the other way around.
    Somebody has approached me asking permission to use the image on my cover for his own work. He is an Indian and the book will be in Tamil. I said OK he can use it but I want credits. What about the following wording:

    "Image Me, author of Sons of Gods, The Mahabharata Retold. Artist: Mu Ramalingkum."

  12. #12
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aruna View Post
    My question is the other way around.
    Somebody has approached me asking permission to use the image on my cover for his own work. He is an Indian and the book will be in Tamil. I said OK he can use it but I want credits. What about the following wording:

    "Image Me, author of Sons of Gods, The Mahabharata Retold. Artist: Mu Ramalingkum."
    It looks like you're only requesting a credit line on the copyright page, which most people ignore anyway. You might spring for a better billing, especially if the credit line is your only compensation. It would be good to determine the extent of usage he believes you've granted him in writing so that he doesn't over reach and continue using your work in ways that you didn't expect because of miscommunication.

    Contracts are important.

  13. #13
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    Seconding on contracts. It's worth reading up on them so it's clear what you're allowing and terms of use. Just like you wouldn't have some book seller approach you asking to sell your book and you go OK without a contract.

    Also get paid. Don't undercut your fellow artists.

  14. #14
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Also get paid. Don't undercut your fellow artists.
    No, I won't ask for money. This is India; things are a bit different there, and much more casual. The artist's son very kindly gave me exclusive rights and refused to take the money I offered. If I were to be paid I'd have to pass the money on to him and he'd only refuse, so what?

  15. #15
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aruna View Post
    My question is the other way around.
    Somebody has approached me asking permission to use the image on my cover for his own work. He is an Indian and the book will be in Tamil. I said OK he can use it but I want credits. What about the following wording:

    "Image Me, author of Sons of Gods, The Mahabharata Retold. Artist: Mu Ramalingkum."
    The image is not copyright you, it is copyright the artist. That ought to be made clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by aruna View Post
    No, I won't ask for money. This is India; things are a bit different there, and much more casual. The artist's son very kindly gave me exclusive rights and refused to take the money I offered. If I were to be paid I'd have to pass the money on to him and he'd only refuse, so what?
    Even if he should refuse, he ought to be given the chance to know what is being done with his parent's art.

    You say the artist's son gave you "exclusive rights." I'm not sure what you mean by that.

    On this page it says
    When a publication asks for exclusive rights, they are asking that the piece not appear anywhere else while they are exercising their right to it. There is often a limit on the length of time a publisher will request exclusive rights -- one month, three months, one year -- and then that piece may appear elsewhere.
    If that is what you meant by "exclusive rights," it means that the artist's son gave you the rights to use the image and promised that he will not let anyone else use it while you do.

    Under those circumstances, it seems a violation of the spirit of things for you to turn around and give the image to someone else.

    If it is not what you meant, if it is instead some sort of "do what you like with it," well, it still sounds better if you were to put the person in touch with the original artist, or the artist's son, rather than negotiate on behalf of them.

    Depending on the copyright laws, it may not be legal for you to simply hand off someone else's image to be used as the recipient wishes. That may lead to it being used for something the artist never intended or would wish.

    At the very least, please put the other author in touch with the artist or the artist's heirs.

  16. #16
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Hi Alessandra,
    thanks for your interesting feedback and info.

    At the time of getting the right to publish the work (and yes, the word exclusive does appear on the contract) the artist's son had no interest in it and basically said I could do what I wanted with it.

    It's an interesting story. The picture was on a calendar given to me by an Indian woman back around 1972, which I kept for years as I liked it so much. I have never seen it anywhere else in India, and when I decided ot use it for a book, I had a hell of time tracking down the artist -- luckily, his signature was on the picture so I knew his name. My search took me to various collectors of Indian calendar art and one researcher happened to have interviewed the artist many years ago, and even had records of the address. It was in a remote town in Tamil Nadu. It so happened that my son was in Tamil Nadu at the time -- and India is HUGE so that was a stroke of luck! -- so I sent him in a taxi to hunt down the address. I didn't know if anyone lived there, and doubted that the artist was alive.
    It was a day's journey, and he had to take an interpreter, but it was successful.
    The son lived in the house and was a jeweller. He had no interest in his father's art or in profiting form it. I am probably the only person in India, and the world, interested in keeping it alive! He was very surprised that my son turned up out of the blue and he signed for me, but really, even that he thought superfluous.

    You must understand that Indians do see things differently from Westerners and I am sure I am doing no wrong ethically be letting another use it. Especially where religious stuff is concerned -- and this is religious art -- they believe it belongs to the world and that no-one can "own" it. Plus, oral permission is just as good as written, and I have the oral.

    However, I will change the wording as that was what I was mostly worried about -- did I or the artist (heirs) hold the copyright. So thank you!

  17. #17
    waxing digital artistic Gale Haut's Avatar
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    He said you could do what you wanted with it. Are you sure that he knew you'd be giving others the same permission, or that you'd be requesting credit for his work? I would still contact the original artist and let him know you are passing around the rights he gave you, and to what extent. This is now sounding very fishy to me. You also owe it to the person requesting the image to let that individual know its origin. Moreover, please brush up on IP law in your country, as very few of us here are going to know specifics and I have a hunch you are making some major assumptions without putting in the research.

  18. #18
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    The original artist has been dead for many years. I will certainly write to his son and let him know. The son has no interest in his father's art.
    There is nothing fishy about this. Please don't you make assumptions.
    Actually, I did research India's law on copyright very thoroughly while trying to find the artist. I was worried as to what I would do if I could not find him, as that seemed most likely in such a huge, chaotic country. I found out that if I had made every effort to find him (due diligence), including ads in the major newspapers, and failed, I could successfully apply for the license to India's copyright board. In India, I discovered, there is great interest in bringing back into circulation all artistic works that are no longer available. This is such a work. It has been out of circulation for decades.
    You can find info here, if you are concerned, under section 32A. But I am more interested in what the son had to say, and how pleased he was to think that someone is putting his dad's work "out there" again. He was not interested in reimbursement. He was pleased, though, that it was being practically raised from the dead.
    Last edited by aruna; 05-05-2013 at 09:34 AM.

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