Legal & Copyright
Copyright is an important issue and one you need to tackle before you commission any work. So what is it? Well, copyright is a type of property that is founded on a person’s creative skill and labour. It is designed to prevent the unauthorised use by others of a work, that is, the original form in which an idea or information has been expressed by the creator. All the images on this site are protected by copyright and should not be copied or used in any way unless with the prior authorisation of The Illustrators Agency and the illustrator(s) concerned. So, you want to own the copyright on the works you’ve commissioned. Here’s an all too familiar scenario – You’ve come up with an idea for a children’s book. You’ve put your heart and soul into it. You know how every character looks, talks, walks and sounds. It’s going to make you millions! You just need someone who can turn your ideas into something tangible. Something you can show your grandchildren in years to come and say “Look what I created”. You need an illustrator. But tread carefully. When an illustrator creates an artwork, he or she retains ownership of that artwork and all it’s rights. By commissioning and paying an illustrator to create something for you, you only pay for the use of that artwork for which it was originally intended. For example, an illustrator draws the front cover of a book for you. You can’t then take that front cover artwork and use it on T-Shirts, posters, advertising material etc. Why not? Because you don’t own the copyright on it. The good news is, you may be able to ‘buy’ the copyright off the illustrator if they’re willing to part with it, but you need to address the issue before any work commences. Copyright can be dealt with in the same way as other forms of personal property. It can be assigned, given away, sold, licensed, left by will or passed on according to the laws relating to intestacy or bankruptcy. It’s too big and too important a subject to cover properly here, so visit www.copyright.org.au for further information.