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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12088
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I funded two illustrations on a castle charity who raised

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I funded two illustrations on a castle for a charity who raised the commission for the illustrations with a historical illustrator who registered the copyright for two illustrations with the charity as owner (all good and well). However, the historical illustrator writes that as I funded the two illustrations that I can use them myself. At the moment there is quite a bit of friction between myself and the charity.
Is he correct ? and where do I stand about using these illustrations ?
Thank you for your question.
Copyright cannot be legally registered. It can be assigned or a licence granted to a third party by the original author of the work. The fact that you funded the illustrations would only be relevant to ownership if the artist was your employee but I presume he was self employed. It is also irrelevant that the charity commissioned the works.
So at first instance the artist owns the copyright in the works unless and until he assigns the copyright to you / and or the charity or grants either or both of you a licence to use the works.
I stress again, copyright is not something that can be registered so you may want to clarify this with the artist. See generally Part 1 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 which is available online.
I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi need a little more information

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi need a little more information.

Informed the illustrator he is the owner of the illustrations however he had already assigned copyright to the charity. You replied that he can grant me a licence as a third party to use the work and the Copyright and Patents Act 1988 states he just needs to write me a letter stating this. How long after he has assigned copyright to the charity can I ask him for a licence ? He is updating/correcting the illustration at the moment at my request. Really can I get licence to use the work or have I left it too late ?

If he has already assigned copyright to the charity, he can't then grant you a licence. On the other hand If that assignation was subject to a licence that he had already granted to you then good and well. I suspect that is not what has happened however and that it is now too late for him to grant you a licence as he no longer owns the copyright to enable him to do so.
I do find it further confusing that the illustrator is still working on the illustration. Normally a copyright work which has been assigned is a complete work. Can you ask him for sight of a copy of the document assigning the copyright?
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