Copyright when artwork is accepted by Co.



I hoping that you could answer a few questions that I
have regarding copy right. I know copyright questions are not always easy to answer. It depends upon the terms of the contract, and every contract is different.

ther ball game and quite complex depending on the

For example if successfull artwork for tarot cards are
submitted and acepted does this mean that the artist
still has full copyright worldwide over the deck?

Has anyone had a deck published or have any insight to all this.



I have never had anything published, but I have had to deal with similar issues for sculpture.

If a company wants to publish your cards, you must always see a contract first - just by accepting them they don't automatically have the worldwide rights to the images. You have to sign the contract before they can publish.

The ownership of rights and/or a licensing agreement has to be spelled out very carefully in the contract. Make sure you know what you are signing, and what your payment will be. Also be sure of how they define their own terms, so there is not a misunderstanding later.

If you will get payment thru royalties, make sure they have a definite publication schedule in writing. Otherwise, if they change their mind, or just want to shelve the project for 10 or 20 years, you will end up with little for your hard work. (And they have kept your work out of the marketplace for little or no cost to themselves.)

Any advertising to be done should be spelled out also. If you do great work, but they never bother to advertise, your sales may be much less per project than they are represented to be.

A company I worked with figured out how many things they were likely to sell of any new item , and they decided not to do ads - just keep adding more artists and products. It was cheaper to give the artist a small amount of up front money to start something new - with the royalties expected to be the real payment.

Consequently, the pie got divied up into smaller and smaller pieces per artist, and royalties were never anywhere near what was promised to me. But the company never had to advertise and still probably made the same amount of money--for themselves !

You probably need a lawyer to make sure you will be treated fairly, and you are doing the right thing.

Best of Luck,


this is kind of related to the thread: how do you publish a theme deck, more specifically, one atv-show deck? for example, i-ve seen buffy decks in the process. how does one go about in publishing these kinds of decks commercially? :)

Geenius at Wrok

Any images from a television show, for example, are by default owned by the production company. Any other images are owned by the publisher or, if the publisher has licensed them, by the artist. Generally speaking, you own the rights to work you create on your own initiative. Usually, however, the rights to a work for hire—that is, a work created at someone else's behest, for which you're being paid—are owned by the person or entity that hired you to create it. In any other relationship—e.g., I create the work, then ask you to publish it for me—the rights are negotiated by contract. It's customary, but not universal, for the creator to retain the absolute rights but grant the publisher exclusive rights (meaning that the creator voluntarily agrees not to have the work reproduced anywhere else) for a limited period of time.


What a wonderfully clear and concise explanation, GAW! I'm keepin' it for future reference! ;)




I'm not sure the Buffy deck will be a reality--studios hold onto their bread & butter stuff with iron fists. Paramount absolutely refuses to let anyone but themselves make money off Star Trek. Disney fights tooth & nail for their creations. I'd expect any tv studio to do that too.

Best you can do is approach them with a 'this was done out of love for the show, would you be interested in this as a merchandising form?' kind of thing. That'll be the only way you can legally get the Buffy deck to market, they've got legal hold on everything they produce so you'd be out in the cold without a legal leg to stand on if you tried it yourself without their permission.

Them's the breaks. It IS their creation, after all. It'd be totally different if it was something in the public realm, like copyright free art, or cats, or such. But you can't take something like Babylon 5 or Spiderman or similar things & expect to be in the free & clear with it. Those are all 'owned' by someone.


with regard to decks based on copyrighted images (such as the buffy deck), instead of approaching the copyright holder with the intention of publishing the cards himself, can the creator of the deck approach the copyright holder with the intention of letting them (company) publish the cards themselves, and well just credit the creator for the creative stuff?


The intricacies of copyright law are astounding. The best thing to do (seriously) is wait until the time that a publisher actually shows interest in a deck and lays out their terms to you. Then take the contract to a lawyer and make sure the paperwork matches their letter of intent. As a rule of thumb, any publisher will try to get as much licensing rights as they can get; any artist should try to sell as limited licensing rights as they can. I say this as someone who's both licensed work from artists and sold printed material to publishers, albeit to a limited degree.