The right to reproduce or copy your work belongs solely to you, the artist. And this right affords you one of the most valuable assets that you may ever own, your intellectual property.
The “work for hire” provision gives ownership to the employee or the party who commissions an artist’s work. This provision leaves the artist with no rights whatsoever.
If there is a traditional employment situation, such as an artist who is an employee or freelancer, this arrangement may be very well justified.
But here’s the important point, this arrangement must be verified in writing and signed by both parties to be legal.
An employer can’t just throw it into the mix later. And just because employers do, it doesn’t make it right or legal.
So here’s a word to the wise: some employers will try to assert a “work for hire” contract after the fact. If so, hold your ground. Understand and maintain your rights.
The problem with too many “work for hire” arrangements is that artists lose valuable resources of future income and control over their images and reputations.
Read your contracts carefully for “work for hire” provisions that attempt to circumvent copyright law.
Note, my fine art business involves exclusively commissioned based work.
My contract very clearly stipulates that I retain all rights to my intellectual property.
I also put my patrons on notice that all works will be registered with the Library of Congress so that I can exercise the right to recover the maximum damages allowed by law.
*Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines published by the Graphic Artists Guild.