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02/27/2011 02:28:58 PM · #1
Hi All,

Really appreciate any help here.

I commissioned a painting
I went pick it up
The artist told be i can sell this pic on whenever i like - but if i want it to anything else with it - like put the image on T-shirts or use as an album cover, etc etc - I would have to consult him to discuss.

My question is - as I commissioned him - is that correct?

This is not like he already painted it and then I bought it!

All help really appreciated



Message edited by author 2011-02-27 14:30:20.
02/27/2011 02:43:43 PM · #2
It really depends on how UK copyright law addresses the issues of "works for hire" and "derivative" works to determine who controls which rights. Unfortunately you may require the advice/opinion of an actual attorney/solicitor -- I don't think it is a clear-cut case amenable to amateur advice, even from someone so free with such advice as myself.
02/27/2011 02:46:26 PM · #3
IMO...you commissioned it, so you bought the painting, but I would think they would still own the image/likeness. Much like if you buy a CD, you own the CD, but the music on it belongs to the artist, and you can not use the music or share it on a P2P network.
02/27/2011 03:11:26 PM · #4

Yeah I understand your responses - its like I buy Microsoft windows, I can use and sell it on - but what if i asked Microsoft to build windows and paid them to do so! - thats my question.

02/27/2011 03:17:31 PM · #5
What does your contract with the artist say?
02/27/2011 03:17:36 PM · #6
In general, when an artist is commissioned to do a work by a customer, s/he owns the reproduction rights to the work unless there is a contract specifying otherwise.

An exception would be "work for hire", but that's a specific legal term that does NOT mean what it superficially sounds like, and it's unlikely this was legally a work-for-hire unless there's an element you haven't disclosed to us.

This is just my gut reaction, however: it's possible UK law is much different than US law, but I don't think it is in this regard.

02/27/2011 03:33:46 PM · #7
Can't say anything about UK law, and not much about US Law, either, on this particular subject. If I were commissioned to photograph a portrait, deliver a framed print, then the recipient would own the framed print, but I would retain all other rights to the image, unless I signed them away in my contract. If someone is using my image for personal use, that is one price, but if they want to use it as a part of a national ad campaign, or as a mass produced image for direct sale (either is welcome!) I charge a different price for that. Pretty standard sort of stuff in photography. Not sure of an specific legal meanings of "commission" though...

So it really comes down to a combination of what your contract states (or doesn't state), and UK copyright law. I would suppose you have non-commericial usage: you can post an image of the painting on your facebook, etc. You could probably have a t-shirt made for yourself. I think the artist is saying that if you want to use this painting for commercial purposes, making money off of unlicensed copies, that won't work. He will need to authorize (for a fee) usage rights such as those.

Now, whether his position is backed up by UK law, and/or your contract, I doubt anyone here can say.

Message edited by author 2011-02-27 15:44:04.
02/27/2011 04:02:40 PM · #8
Originally posted by chromeydome:

Now, whether his position is backed up by UK law, and/or your contract, I doubt anyone here can say.

21.gif Matthew can... He's a barrister or solicitor in UK, not sure which.

02/27/2011 05:13:41 PM · #9
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Originally posted by chromeydome:

Now, whether his position is backed up by UK law, and/or your contract, I doubt anyone here can say.

21.gif Matthew can... He's a barrister or solicitor in UK, not sure which.


well, that IS cool to know! I have a friend here in her last semester of law school, but the way law school is, she barely has time to breathe, much less answer random hypothetical questions I might throw at her :-0
02/27/2011 07:32:26 PM · #10
Do you have a contract, or did you agree what it was that you would be using the image for in advance?

If you are commissioning a work, then the default position is that the artist has the rights to copy his work, issue copies, lend it, or adapt it (and this would extend to making digital copies). Also (regardless of contract) he has "moral rights" to be identified as the artist, to avoid derogatory treatment and not to be falsely attributed to a work.

The full answer depends on the facts and what you want to do - but essentially it is up to you to acquire the rights that you want (or, in the case of moral rights, a waiver of inalienable rights).

There are very limited exceptions to the limits of copyright - and there is no US style "fair use" doctrine or general "non-commercial use" exception. The exceptions are limited to non-commercial and very limited and proportionate research, private study, education, criticism or review contexts. Incidental inclusion in other works is permitted.
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