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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Hi, I am a self employed painter, and I am thinking about

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I am a self employed painter, and I am thinking about signing a freelance contract with a company, where I will teach art lessons at certain events. They also potentially want to by some of my paintings for marketing purposes etc.

Here are some passages of the contract the suggest:

artist irrevocably transfers and assigns to client all right, title and interest in any Works acquired by client from artist, including all copyrights, as well as all renewals and extensions thereto, and and and all intellectual property rights associated with any such.

I suppose that would mean, that technically, I couldn't even show those paintings on my own website, if I were to sign this "transferring all rights" part.

What would be the normal wording here:
artist grants clients unlimited usage rights of something, but retains the copyright on the digital version of the painting... something like that?

or how could I do that? I don't feel too comfortable signing the passage they propose...

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

It does indeed appear that the clause means you are transferring all rights to any painting you have sold to them. It would mean that without their consent you cannot use these paintings, or images of them, in the future. What you could try and negotiate is that the wording grants you a licence to still use images of these paintings for personal or professional use, without making any direct claims that you are still the copyright owner.

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?


I guess my actual question is, if we compare painting to photography e.g. a photographer is never supposed to give away his copyright (that is the consensus). However, as a painter, you actually give the painting away (a photographer keeps the raw file and only sells a license of a jpg, a derivative of his original artwork), so is it rather normal, for a painter to give away the copyright too? Lets say, I sell a painting, without a contract to somebody, would i still retain the right to sell, lets say reprints of it, automatically?

Ben Jones :

the copyright owner is the original creator of the work in question, unless that copyright has been subsequently transferred. A sale of a painting does not automatically transfer copyright. So if you sell a painting with no mention of copyright, you still remain the copyright owner. They own the physical painting but you retain copyrights over the actual image. I would not normally say that is is usual for a painter to give away his copyright over a painting, they would usually sell the painting but retain copyright, although that is subject to the specific agreement they have with the buyer and in some circumstances copyright may be transferred over

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