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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Satisfied Customers: 12378
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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If someone buys an illustration for commercial use, do they

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If someone buys an illustration for commercial use, do they also own the copyright?I design and illustrate posters. If someone buys a poster, do they own the copyright? Can they claim the artwork is theirs as they have commissioned me and paid me to do the work? I have no problem with them making money off my poster, but I want to be able to say I designed it (or display on Instagram or wherever) and that it is my work. As a secondary question - if anything is changed on that poster, like colour, small details - is that then a completely different work? (How do I pay for this service/how's it charged??!)
JA: What written documentation do you have?
Customer: No documentation - this is just a query. But a recurring issue for me. I recently started selling on Fiverr. Some of my designs (usually poster illustrations) are bought for commercial use. I want to know who owns the copyright on these? Can someone else claim to have done the original artwork. Can I put it in my portfolio, or does somebody else own it?
JA: Have you talked to a local attorney? Has anything been filed in court?
Customer: No - just a query.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: How am I charged for this??!
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Here is a sample poster. The person who bought this illustration has an online store selling posters and has on it all © original artwork by (her name). While she can sell the poster many times etc, I want to know am I okay to say the poster is my work? She has paid for the poster for 'commercial use'. This issue is continually arising for me, I am new to this kind of selling.

Hello, and thank you for your question. I am your Expert and I will provide the answer you require.

1. The legal situation if you sell a poster with your own original artwork is that the copyright in the poster and its artwork remains with you, but you grant a licence to the person who bought the illustration to use it for the purposes of the poster and resale of any copies. You are ok to say the poster is your work because you are the artist and the copyright in the poster remains with you throughout even though you have sold the actual physical poster and copies are going to be made from it. Essentially, "commercial use" allows the buyer to copy the poster and sell these copies. Commercial use incorporates a licence in the copyright to use the poster for commercial ends. You can put the poster in your portfolio, as it is your own original artwork and you continue to own the copyright in the artwork and makeup of the poster. Someone else cannot claim to have done this original artwork, and if they do, then you can sue them for copyright infringement. This includes a right to sue anyone who got a commercial use licence who claims the artwork is their artwork, because you continue to own the original copyright in the work. Finally, if something is changed on the poster, it has to be a substantial change for you to lose the copyright in the poster and for it to constitute a new "work" which attracts a fresh copyright protection of its own. So long as the work is identifiable as yours, then the work continues to attract copyright protection for you in the original artwork.

Buachaill and other Republic of Ireland Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 21 days ago.
Thank you so much! Invaluable information!

2. Glad to be of assistance. Have a good day.