I went to a really great seminar about copyright laws the other day taught by Peter Vaughan Shaver who specializes in art and music law at Mercy Corp NW. Mercy Corp offers 2-3 seminars a month on different topics plus you can sign up to have a sit down with a legal, bookkeeping or business professional. Check them out they are a wonderful resource to artists and small business owners .
As artists you have all probably wondered about copyrights at one point or another and I would like to share a few things that I learned that might be of interest.
1.) What does copyright mean exactly? Copyright does not cover the ideas, only the individual expression of ideas. Copyright insures that no one can reproduce, modify, distribute or sell your work and that you have the total control of it's integrity. As artists it may fall on you to educate your clients/the public about what this means. Just because they bought that painting doesn't mean they own the copyrights. They are not allowed to copy or modify the painting. You just sold that one image to them. You still have the rights to sell that painting in other forms if you so choose. As the artist you do have the authority to sell the painting and the rights to someone or a business if you choose. Just think long and hard and maybe call Peter before you do. Just imagine as you are selling the right to your work, what if this image is used all over the world and made this company rich? How much should I sell it for?
2.)REGISTER YOU ART!!! especially if you are selling your design/art to a another company or have any concerns about someone misusing your art. It only cost 35$ per unit of art. Some artists will register a whole years worth of art at once so they only have to pay 35$ a year. Here is the link to register your work www.copyright.gov All you have to do is fill out the application and upload images of your work. Worse case scenario, you come upon some nasty copyright issues first thing you should do is get a copyright, it may not be too late.
3.) KNOW THE LAW Oregon is one of the only states that has a consignment law. Check out this website http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/359.200 this is the official law. Check out this link if you do not speak legal jargon http://www.artcop.com/handouts/Consignments06.pdf It will inform you of your rights as an artist. Consider a consignment agreement written up between you and the place that is showing your work. Things happen and an agreement can help ease the rough roads that can come up and it also shows the person you are working with how professional you are.
So those are the major points and the facts I found interesting. Let me know if you would like to discuss this topic further or email Paul if you need some legal help firstname.lastname@example.org
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