Copyright for artists and photographers

Copyright for artists and photographers - The Artists Print Room

Copyright is often a daunting word, in where not a lot of people truly understand how it all works. However, as an artist or photographer, it is worth getting a basic grasp of who owns what and what your rights are. Here we will give you some basics to get you started.

UK Copyright

First and most importantly, you should be aware that in nearly all cases, copyright will be with the artist or photographer, regardless of who owns the actual piece of work. There are of course some exceptions to the rules and you can find out more here.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is the main statute that governs copyright law in the UK and you can find the full act on the UK Intellectual Property Office website. Copyright will tend to last for the whole of the artist or photographers lifetime, plus an additional 70 years on top of that. It is also worth noting too that if you have a third party photograph or scan your artwork for reproduction purposes, they will then hold the copyright for that digital file.

Reproduction Rights

With you holding the copyright of your work, this means no other individual can reproduce your work in the same or any other format including promotional items such as mugs or greetings cards. Individuals can seek your permission to use your work and reproduce this in different formats but we would recommend explicit, written consent for this supplemented by a formal arrangement with a contract. Any sales of your copyright must be done so in writing to make them legal and withstanding. When looking at the possibilities of reproduction pieces, it may best suit you as the artist or photographer to sell on reproduction rights and this will allow you to maintain the original copyright but still sell on further licence agreements.

Artists Resale Rights (ARR)

There is a wealth of information available online regarding the specific rights of artists and this includes the Artists Resale Rights (ARR). This entitles creators of original works of art to a royalty each time one of their works is resold through an auction house or art market professional. To find out more information about the rules and exclusions, visit the ARR section of the gov.uk website.

For further information, contact details for the Intellectual Property Office are available here. Alternatively, if you are having an issue with your copyright, contact a solicitor who specialises in the industry.


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