Each country have their own copyright laws. Some countries have basically the same and some may officially have, but disregarded, and some dont have at all. But we can see that many laws are the same and universal.
One of the of the most important laws in Copyright is – common sense and mutual respect.
If you as client dont see an illustrator and graphic designer or writer, composer and anything artistically creative as a real job, then you have to rethink and start learning. Its work. And it´s a real job. Its what built the empire of Disney and the empire if you like of Gearge Lucas/Star Wars, and made it possible for us to let George Lucas create one of the most important companies in motion picture. And one heck of supporter of artist such as illustrators in movies.
George Lucas is in my view one of the most important people to lift illustration in motion pictures and even computer games.
You say what? someone cry´s out. Yep, thats my view. And why so? Go ponder a bit and I might write more about it later, but think Lucas Art. Its a good starting point.
Now. As a buyer and seller of copyright, what is the buyer buying and what are you selling. Lets for the ease of it tell what, according to Swedish copyright laws, the buyer buying. See this list as a “check list”, its originally from the Swedish association of Illustrator & Graphic Designers “Svenska tecknare. ww.svenskatecknare.se
WHAT AM I BUYING?
First a few words on copyright
Respecting the work of the originator goes without saying for anyone seriously interested in purchasing pictures. Copyright law can be summed up in two words: Ask first! The Copyright Act affords copyright owners protection over their work, in this case the depiction of a motif, in the same way as the Designs and Patents Act affords protection over various types of inventions. The Copyright Act covers both analogue and digital use of pictures. A PICTURE includes many types of images, such as photos, drawings, illustrations or collages. The work delivered to you by the originator is to be considered the original.
1. What am I buying?
When ordering a picture you are only acquiring the right to use it in a specific manner. All other rights of use — THE COPYRIGHT — always belong to the originator.
2. Who owns the picture?
The ownership of the picture always remains with the originator. If you wish to keep the picture, you have to reach a special agreement with the originator.
3. How may the picture be used?
The picture may only be used in the manner agreed upon with the originator. This may pertain to a certain number of printed copies with a specified distribution, or publication on the Internet during a specified period. If any changes are made subsequent to the agreement, the originator must give his or her consent.
4. How about using the picture several times?
As soon as the picture is to be used more than once, the originator must be notified. Remember that using a picture several times may entail further costs.
5. Can I make alterations to the picture?
No alterations may be made to the picture without the consent of the originator. This includes cutting, retouching, digital manipulation as well as other methods. However, there are instances where a certain amount of cutting is allowed, providing the content is not distorted. In these cases the originator must be informed in advance. When the picture is used in an editorial context, or as information, the name of the originator MUST accompany the image. When used in advertisements, the name OUGHT to be printed.
6. For how long is the picture protected?
The sole right of use remains protected for seventy years following the year the originator died. A photograph that is not deemed to be a work of art, is protected for fifty years after the year it was produced. For an image to be deemed to be a photographic work of art, it must reflect individuality, originality and a distinctive character. This means that two individuals are never able, independently of one another, to produce the same picture.
7. Am I allowed to produce new copies?
Additional copies of the picture may not be produced without the consent of the originator, be it in newspapers, other printed material, as photocopies, or on the Internet.
8. Am I allowed to transfer the picture to a digital media?
Transferring the picture to a digital media is equal to producing a new copy. This also includes the transfer of a picture from one digital system to another and the printing of such a picture. As a consequence, prior consent of the originator is mandatory. Nowadays, the digitisation of pictures is an integral part of the printing process. When the originator consents to the printing of a picture the use of this digitisation is said to be inherent. However, any other use of the digitised picture is not allowed, and it must be removed after the printing is completed.
9. What about buying a picture from an archive?
When buying a picture from an archive, you are only acquiring the right to use the picture in a specific manner. After using it, the picture must always be returned without having been damaged. If the picture is used again, the prior consent of the originator must be obtained.
Hope this helps.
Illustrator, artist & graphic designer.