When someone wants to use your art to display on their products or as an advertising display, they must negotiate with you for art licensing. They do not have the right to use anything you have created without your written permission or they are in violation of copyright law. Make sure your art licensing agreement takes into consider future earnings and don’t allow the client to insist on an exclusive agreement unless your price is high enough to accommodate a future loss of earning. You created the art , so you do not have to agree to work exclusively with that client nor do you have to agree to sell your art in exchange for a set amount of money.
Art licensing can be very complicated and if you are new to the business you may not understand the future earnings potential of your work or what you may stand to lose if you fail to negotiate a good art licensing contract.
It’s always better to start higher and negotiate downwards than to start lower. Your client is not going to offer you a higher price than what you are offering, so you want to allow yourself room for negotiation.
The terms of your art licensing may vary depending on its purpose and the client. If someone uses your art for a good cause you may be willing to accept a lower price, or even free advertising in exchange for using your work. On the other hand, if you have a multi-million dollar corporation that wants to use your art to promote its products, you want to charge a higher price.
If someone is using your art just to display with no potential for sales there is no need for licensing as this falls under personal use and not under any kind of requirement for licensing. Art licensing comes into play when the display of your art is connected to a specific product and has the potential to create a profit for the company using it such as in commercials, on display advertisements or as part if an advertising campaign. When you look at the terms of your art licensing agreement you have to take all of these components into consideration before you set the terms of your agreement.
Always consult with your attorney before you finalize your licensing agreement. That doesn’t mean you have to allow the lawyer to prepare the agreement for you, but you should definitely seek legal advice to make sure that your rights are protected and the client is getting a fair deal. Do not set your pricing so high that you price yourself out of the market-if you aren’t sure, ask other artists the terms of their art licensing agreements so that you can get a feel for the industry standard. Once you know that you can begin working on your own terms and hopefully offer something that falls within the average other artists are receiving for the work they license. Remember be fair to yourself and honest to your clients.
by Dwayne Whiting