Case Studies

Chris Taylor, cartoonist, successfully negotiates with pharmaceutical company for use of his characters

Chris Taylor. Photo by Chris Taylor 2018

Chris Taylor, a cartoonist with over 15 years experience working for a national newspaper and book illustrator, has recently branched out on his own to do freelance cartoon work. When an exciting opportunity came his way to collaborate with a pharmaceutical company to create characters for the company, Chris approached Arts Law for advice. Chris wanted to understand the contract he had been given, and how his rights were dealt with under it. 

Arts Law’s pro bono lawyer, Moira McKenzie advised Chris that under the contract he was in fact giving away his copyright (a “copyright assignment”) and he needed to be comfortable with that and the fee in return. Artists need to appreciate that a copyright assignment means giving away control over the use of their work, and while this is something Arts Law generally does not encourage, sometimes it may be reasonable commercial practice, and of course for the right price. 

Chris was also advised that as an artist he has the right to be named as creator (known as a “moral right”), but the contract was asking for his consent not to be named. He was advised that if he wished to be credited, then he should not give this consent. It is important for artists to understand their “moral rights”, and to be aware of how a contract might impinge upon those rights – in particular, being aware of a contract under which you consent to not being credited. If being credited is important to an artist, and understandably so, then artists should stand firm on this. 

Arts Law recently got in contact with Chris to see how he went with negotiating the contract following the advice. Chris told us that off the back of Arts Law’s advice he felt empowered to set the right fee in return for giving away his copyright. It was important for Chris to be able to negotiate for a higher fee, but maintain a positive relationship with the company. Chris said he was able to do this because he felt Arts Law had helped him understand his rights. We are thrilled to hear from Chris that he reached agreement on a higher fee and that he will be credited as creator. It’s also great to hear that the positive dealings have led to them exploring further opportunities for the use of Chris’ art. 

In Chris’ words: 

“This was not my area of expertise. I wanted to know where I stood. Arts Law helped me understand my rights and their advice gave me the confidence to ask for what I wanted and to stand my ground. Moving forward, I feel comfortable in further exploring business opportunities involving my art. Arts Law answered my questions and is a wonderful low cost service which I will continue to use and recommend to other artists and designers.” 

It is so rewarding for Arts Law to hear about the positive impact of our advice.

Photo by Chris Taylor 2018.

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