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Who Holds Rights To Commissioned Designs?

by Mark on March 3rd, 2008

On topic and timely…

If I pay for creative work, do I own it?

An entrepreneur wants to know who holds rights to commissioned designs: the buyer or the artist?

Arch, from Brooklyn, NY, recently asked Fortune Magazine’s Small Business folks this question;

“I recently purchased a design/drawing from an illustrator to use as a design for my T-shirt. Since I paid for the drawing and it was originally my idea, do I own all rights to the design? Can I even copyright it?”

FSB went to Ted Max, an attorney who has worked with fashion design houses such as Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, who “strongly suggests that if you are a business owner commissioning a work, make sure all the terms of purchase are in writing.

A good agreement includes a clear document setting forth the following terms: that the work is original and does not violate the intellectual-property rights of another; the buyer owns all rights, copyrights and interest; the work is created at the buyer’s direction and to their specifications; and the buyer has final approval rights and “moral rights” to change or alter the artwork as the buyer sees fit.”

The article also mentions a tidbit of copyright info I certainly didn’t know;

“Under copyright law, there’s a concept called “work-for-hire,” which grants the employer - the one who pays for the work - all rights associated with it. Otherwise, copyright ownership of creative work generally remains with the person who actually executed the work.”

HTH someone…

Tags: commissioned designs, copyright law, creative works copyrights, Fortune Small Business, intellectual-property rights

POSTED IN: Business Tips, Webmaster Tools, Worth Passing Along

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