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Cover design service copyright

I wasn't sure whether to ask this here on on the Print Books forum, but how does Lulu's cover design service work regarding copyright? Do you become the owner of the cover copyright (thus allowing you to use it outside Lulu) or is it limited to use on Lulu, and requiring you to give credit in your copyright page?
The Armadillo with No Heart:

Comments

  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Normally if someone creates something for you on commission [as in they're paid to do it] you own the rights to what you paid for. I would imagine you'd be free to use something you paid for elsewhere, but I could be wrong. You'd need to see the fine print in whatever contract is used.
    Bluethorn said:
    I wasn't sure whether to ask this here on on the Print Books forum, but how does Lulu's cover design service work regarding copyright? Do you become the owner of the cover copyright (thus allowing you to use it outside Lulu) or is it limited to use on Lulu, and requiring you to give credit in your copyright page?

  • If you mean our cover tools in the free to use wizard, you'll own the copyright over the design.
    If instead you mean our paid services, you would want to check with the contract, but I believe you get the rights to the content once the work is complete.
  • Normally if someone creates something for you on commission [as in they're paid to do it] you own the rights to what you paid for. I would imagine you'd be free to use something you paid for elsewhere, but I could be wrong. You'd need to see the fine print in whatever contract is used.
    Bluethorn said:
    I wasn't sure whether to ask this here on on the Print Books forum, but how does Lulu's cover design service work regarding copyright? Do you become the owner of the cover copyright (thus allowing you to use it outside Lulu) or is it limited to use on Lulu, and requiring you to give credit in your copyright page?

    You are right: You (the publisher) own the rights you paid for. But it needs to be made clear up front exactly what those are. You must not assume that because you commissioned a cover that you also own the copyright to it. This is not necessarily the case. You need to be absolutely clear right up front regarding what you are paying for.

    Speaking from my experience as a professional illustrator, the use of my work and the copyright to my work are entirely separate entities. For instance, if a magazine commissions an illustration or a publisher commissions a book cover, they are purchasing only the rights to use that artwork under particular, spelled-out conditions. For instance, a publisher may want to use the artwork in a single issue of a magazine and no place else, or a publisher may want to use the art in a print publication as well as on a web site. If a publisher wishes to not only own all reproduction rights in perpetuity but the copyright as well, this is something that needs to be established up front in the purchase order or contract, otherwise the assumption is that they are only purchasing the right to use your artwork under whatever limitations they require. Typically, a book publisher---say, Simon & Schuster or Macmillan---buys only the one-time reproduction rights, (often plus certain other rights, such as the use of the art in catalogs and advertising related to the book). The copyright remains with the artist. Unless, as I said, an arrangement is made otherwise---which usually entails a larger payment. 

    To take one example---when I do an illustration for Scientific American an additional 10% is added to my fee that allows the magazine to use the artwork in its overseas editions. Likewise, another magazine had to get my permission, and pay a fee, for using an illustration that had originally been commissioned for a different magazine.

    Total ownership of a work of art by a publisher is usually the result of a specific "work for hire" arrangement, in which the publisher owns---lock, stock and barrel---everything the artist creates while under contract. This means they not only own all the rights---copyrights included---but any physical art as well. Needless to say, this is an arrangement most artists shy away from.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Paul_Lulu said:
    If you mean our cover tools in the free to use wizard, you'll own the copyright over the design.
    If instead you mean our paid services, you would want to check with the contract, but I believe you get the rights to the content once the work is complete.
    That sounds perfectly correct!
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Yeah work-for-hire may be a steady sort-of paycheck but it has a lot of drawbacks.
  • Yeah work-for-hire may be a steady sort-of paycheck but it has a lot of drawbacks.
    Absolutely! I have only ever undertaken two work for hire projects in my life!

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    I think you are most likely to understand why there are some things I refuse to contract to do.
    Yeah work-for-hire may be a steady sort-of paycheck but it has a lot of drawbacks.
    Absolutely! I have only ever undertaken two work for hire projects in my life!


  • I'm still not a lawyer, in case the question arises, and probably never will be one, for future reference. Sphinx and Ron have covered the big points, so this is just add-on:

    It's my understanding that there are certain aspects that a court looks at should there be a disagreement with an artist over the possession of a creative work. For example, suppose that someone wrote copy for a magazine assignment without a written agreement in advance: Both parties might claim copyright based on their understanding of the agreement.

    So a court might ask where the work was done -- at the artist's studio / writer's den, or the magazine's offices? They might ask when it was done -- 9 to 5 at the magazine's demand, or on the artist's/writer's own timetable, with his own hours. They might also ask what criteria were used to judge whether the work was acceptable to the magazine as having fulfilled their requirements. Expenses are another factor, as well as the manner the assignment was offered, and so forth.

    If you do work for me at your studio, on your time, using your materials, I would have a hard time claiming that it was work for hire. If you came to my "office," used my materials, and closed up shop each night at 5 when I locked up, you'd have a hard time claiming creative control.

    When in doubt, get it in writing.

    *Pointless rambling war story:* I did once work in a place that asked everyone to sign a trade secrets agreement. A loose reading of the agreement would suggest that all intellectual property developed by the employee was owned by the company. It was theoretically intended to protect client lists, and a few tricks of the trade, in case we decided to go free lance or join another company.

    Most employees signed without even reading it, but since I actually had intellectual property (as all of us here do) I refused, and explained that it was too loose an agreement. This actually even lead to discussion between myself, the owner, and a general manager who loosely styled himself "the vice-president."

    Not that I ever expected them to sue over a visual basic calculator that converts minutes to decimal hours for time sheets, or over a collection of then unpublished stories and a few albums of unpublished photos... but one never knows where the greed of others may take them.

    I suppose that I should have re-drafted a more acceptable agreement, but they dropped the matter, and I never stole their client lists, so everything was fine in the end. But it's better to be clear.

    Oh, one other point: In contract law, any ambiguity in a contract is "owned" by the party who wrote the contract. If you write a contract that doesn't clearly give you copyright by a reasonable disinterested reading of the letter of the contract, then it doesn't. But if the other part wrote it, it might.

    Soapbox surrendered.
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    Cliff,

    I've done work-for-hire at a couple places where you had to sign 'trade secrets', 'intellectual property', and 'non-compete' agreements so loosely worded purposely in favor of the corporations involved they were obscene.

    The corporations involved could literally claim anything you did on your time at any location in any field of endeavor as their own, and in at least a few cases they did claim work in no way associated with the hirelings' jobs. Employees laid off due to business cycle downturns could not work for six months in their field.

    When in doubt, read the fine print. If you're still uncertain, get an attorney to read it over and offer an opinion as well.
  • In the State of California, we have a right-to-Work law, which basically nullifies non-compete agreements. If you are qualified to do work and meet any state licensing requirements under the professions act, you can work in that field. This doesn't apply to all states, of course.

    Since I had been hired before that company decided to institute its intellectual property policy, and since I was the leading tech for at least one of the systems, they didn't have much leverage to make me sign. I wound up quitting a few months later anyway. My letter of resignation went nine pages. I've never been one for brevity.
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    The Texas version of Right-To-Work should more properly be termed Right-To-Starve since you can be fired for any reason or no reason and unemployment benefits can be denied for any reason the employers wants to give. Failure to sign an agreement with a company is a de facto defensible reason to terminate.

    When it comes to cover art, barring a contract the commissioner has an expectation to have the reasonable use of said cover for the purpose stated (to use on one book) without acceding the artist's copyright to said image unless explicitly stated. It is also considered good form to credit provenance of said image.

    I'm not a lawyer and haven't played one on TV, but I did read a bit of law years ago. Kind of why I say read the fine print and if still in doubt consult with a shyster, erm lawyer.

    On a personal note I've delivered assessments (with scathing brevity) that prompted 'Must Read' emails a few times.
  • Thanks for the answers, guys. Helped clear up quite a bit. I guess the consensus is to read the fine print when in doubt. To be honest, I really just wanted to cover my bases, since I live outside North America and wouldn't even know where to begin if lawyers had to get involved. I can't exactly afford a lawyer either...
    The Armadillo with No Heart:
  • Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    All I can afford is a narcoleptic public defender, so all good.

    Contract law tends to operate under jurisdiction, in this case where the service provider is located since the contract is theirs.

    As long as you have the right to use the commissioned work for the specific book wherever you may choose to publish said book, you should be good, though if you buy a friend's lawyer (barrister) a cup of kaffee he she or ze might confirm it for you.
    Bluethorn said:
    Thanks for the answers, guys. Helped clear up quite a bit. I guess the consensus is to read the fine print when in doubt. To be honest, I really just wanted to cover my bases, since I live outside North America and wouldn't even know where to begin if lawyers had to get involved. I can't exactly afford a lawyer either...

    .
  • Bluethorn said:
    Thanks for the answers, guys. Helped clear up quite a bit. I guess the consensus is to read the fine print when in doubt. To be honest, I really just wanted to cover my bases, since I live outside North America and wouldn't even know where to begin if lawyers had to get involved. I can't exactly afford a lawyer either...
    Here is some very useful information. Most importantly, it keeps things pretty simple, especially in its explanation about rights: http://businessofillustration.com/go-illustration-contract/
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Bluethorn said:
    Thanks for the answers, guys. Helped clear up quite a bit. I guess the consensus is to read the fine print when in doubt. To be honest, I really just wanted to cover my bases, since I live outside North America and wouldn't even know where to begin if lawyers had to get involved. I can't exactly afford a lawyer either...
    Here is some very useful information. Most importantly, it keeps things pretty simple, especially in its explanation about rights: http://businessofillustration.com/go-illustration-contract/
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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