Do you know about the Visual Artists Ireland Info~Pool online resource? Info~Pool is a resource for artists that provides information on all aspects of professional development. Here you will find information guides on topics such as Exhibiting with Galleries, Preparing Proposals, Tax and Self Employment, Copyright, Contracts and much more. See: http://visualartists.ie/resources/infopool-2/
Our help desk have a number of questions that are constantly asked by our members. In this section we outline our advice under the following headings.
If you have a query you would like answered please contact our help desk by telephone or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why should I become a member of Visual Artists Ireland?
What are the benefits of being a member of Visual Artists Ireland?
What should I look for in an exhibition contract?
Tax & Self-Employment
I wish to apply for the Artists’ Tax Exemption. How do I go about it?
I am an artist registered as self-employed. Please would you advise me regarding preparing my annual tax returns.
How do I attract professional critics and curators to my exhibition?
I am considering using an agent to help me promote and sell my work. Where can I find one?
Pricing & Costings
I have won a commission to design a corporate Christmas card for a commercial company. Would you advise me as to the going rate for this type of work?
I have been approached by a person who wishes to one of my images on an album cover. Can you advise me on the copyright implications of such an exchange?
I have completed a commission for a local authority. What are the implications of ownership and copyright with regard to public art commissions?
I need to get insurance for my studio – can you advise?
It is considered best practice for the commissioner to lay out details of ownership and copyright in the original commission brief or in the artists’ contract. I would advise you to review the original commission brief and your contract to see if these issues were addressed. If these issues were not addressed and you have not assigned your copyright to the commissioner then the copyright remains with you. Assigning rights mean someone else becomes the owner of the copyright as well as the work. Visual Artists Ireland recommends that artists never assign their copyright to anybody.
When it comes to commissioning the issue of ownership is a bit of a grey area especially if there is no agreement in place. When a commissioner commissions a piece of work for a specific purpose there is an implied contract that the commissioner will own the work (though not the copyright – again unless you assigned it to them). With no agreement, the issue of ownership is open to interpretation. Thus, artists are advised to spell out their position concerning ownership when the terms of the commission are agreed.
When a commissioner commissions a piece of work then they have the right to reproduce the work in a variety of ways – for example using an image of the work for promotional purposes, on a website or in brochures. This should be stated in a contract or in the commission brief. If it is not, then it is implied that the commission can use the commissioned work in a number of ways.
As part of your copyright, you have moral rights, one of which is the right to paternity. So if the commissioner uses the work in a publication or on a website, you have the right to be identified as the creator of the work in the publication or on the website. The commissioner is the only party entitled to publish the work. If another party wishes to publish the work, they need your permission because you are the copyright owner.
There are a few texts on the Info-Pool section of our website that address these issues in more detail:
The first entitled ‘Copyright and the Visual Artist’ written by Solicitor Linda Scales, explains copyright and how it works, ownership, assigning and licensing rights, moral rights and information on copyright infringement.
The second text is entitled ‘Handling Disputes’. Here, Linda Scales provides advice to artists on how to avoid professional disputes and manage those that do occur. The information includes a sample letter of complaint that deals with infringement of copyright.
Another entitled ‘Contracts’ explains the legalities of contracts and how they work. Here you will find sample contracts for use when undertaking a commission, exhibiting with a gallery or reproducing an artwork.
Unless you assigned your copyright to somebody else then you own the copyright. Assigning rights mean someone else becomes the owner of the copyright as well as the work. Visual Artists Ireland recommends that artists never assign their copyright to anybody. If you are the copyright owner then you have the right to use the work as you wish.
In this case, you should license your copyright to the person who wants to use your image on an album cover. Licensing means that another person can use the copyright material. There are a few ways of licensing copyright:
An exclusive license is a license, which is in writing and signed by you the copyright owner. Under an exclusive license, the licensee is the only person who can use the work in the way covered by the license. It is common in book publishing agreements, for example, for a writer to grant the publisher an exclusive license to print and publish the writer’s book. The writer is not then entitled to license another publisher to publish the same book during the period of the license.
Non-exclusive License: If you grant a non-exclusive license to do something with your work, you may continue to use your work in that way and you can also grant other people non-exclusive licenses to use your work in that way. You should negotiate and agree on the terms and conditions of the license. Discuss where the image will be used. Will it be used on the album cover exclusively or will it be used on flyers, brochures and websites for example. It is also important to state where the album will be distributed (locally or internationally) and the number of copies made. These are issues you need to discuss, agree on, put down in writing and have signed by both parties.
There are a few texts on the Info~Pool section of our website that you should find useful.
The first is entitled ‘Copyright and the Visual Artist’. Here solicitor Linda Scales presents an overview of copyright and how it works. She also advises artists on how to protect their copyright and what steps to take if copyright is infringed.
The second is ‘Contracts’. Here Linda Scales explains the legalities of contracts and how they work. She also provides sample contracts for use when undertaking a commission, exhibiting with a gallery or reproducing an artwork.