Faq copyright visual arts/design

How can you protect and earn from your copyright? Copyright means that a work may only be copied or made public with the permission of the intellectual creator of the work.

Getting copyright

You can have copyright on works which: have an original character or are perceptible with the senses. This means that an idea can only be protected by copyright if it is set down on paper; it does not, however, have to have reached its final or definitive form. You will get copyright automatically, without having to fill out any forms. But it is sensible to indicate that a copyright applies, by registering with the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property.

Remember that the employer, not the designer, holds the copyrights of works designed within an employment situation. If you make a commissioned work, make clear arrangements and maybe set up a contract.

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Copyright

Earning from copyrights

Making works public through means of exhibition, on internet, in a book, on tv, etc., is only allowed if the copyright holder gives his/her permission. The copyright holder may attach conditions to this, such as a fee, mentioning of their name, and so on. You can claim damages if your copyrighted work is made public without permission.

When a work is copied or multiplied, for example by reproduction in a series, the copyright holder can give the reproduction in licence (for a fixed fee) and/or require royalties (a certain amount for each copy sold).

Agreements on paper

Verbal agreements cannot be verified. Avoid trouble: put all agreements about royalties, licences, permission for publication, etc., down on paper. If the other party (producer, gallery, etc.) comes up with a contract, take the time to read it through carefully and if necessary to get expert advice about it.

Copyright bureaus

Pictoright is a copyright bureau for visual artists, photographers and illustrators. This bureau keeps track of publications and has contact with organizations which have to do with copyrights regularly. If you are affiliated with a copyright bureau they can take care of a number of copyright matters for you, such as royalties and permission for publication.