Copyright Law

Copyright law protects visual artists and other creators of intellectual property from unauthorized use, commercial exploitation and associations or derivative works that could be damaging to the artist’s reputation. If you are familiar with purchasing music or movies, you are aware of the efforts of artists to control the distribution of, and profits derived from, their work. Securing an income from their given field of expertise is essential to the livelihood of professional artists. Thus, copyright protections promote the creation of new work by fostering an environment in which it is safe to create and share it.

Copyright, unless transferred by the artist in writing, is retained by the artist, even when a commissioned work is sold for publication in a book, professional journal or Web site. What is most often sold is a license, or a right to use the work for a specific purpose and/or length of time. Unless otherwise outlined in a written contract signed by the artist, the copyright lies with the artist to alter, display or resell the work. The purchaser of a license reserves only the usage rights outlined in writing by the artist. Any use beyond the scope of said agreement constitutes copyright infringement.

For more information on copyright law, visit the official site of the U.S. Copyright Office.