Archive for July, 2009

When you have a logo, brochure, website or any other project designed, who owns the rights to the artwork? The answer may surprise you…

Usually in non-contractual agreements the artist or agency who creates the piece of work owns the rights to the work. Yes, even though as a client you pay for the project, what you are actually paying for is the end product. The end product is a final hires pdf of your project which is intended to be used only for the purposes in which it was created (printing, web display etc). And because the concept of the design and the modifiable files of the project belong to the artist you can engage that artist in any future changes or similar projects you may have.

So as client, how do you gain the rights to your artwork? Simple, you can start by asking. In many cases an artist can provide the worker files of your project for an additional fee. You may also work out a contract with the artist specifically defining who owns the rights.

As a freelance artist what I see most are Work For Hire contracts. Basically when signing these types of contracts, the artist is agreeing to give up the rights to this work and often times are required to turn over all worker files at the conclusion of the project. As an artist you can choose to negotiate a higher price for Work For Hire projects (since you might miss out on future work based off the original), but in any case you should ask that a clause be placed in the contract allowing you the right to show the work in your portfolio for illustrative purposes.

The fields of copyright, patent, and intellectual law are vast and often confusing. When in doubt, the best course of action is to hire a lawyer (preferably before a dispute happens) to make sure your rights are protected.

Post written by KRSmith at


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