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Typed signature on copyright release form

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:28 pm
by JD

I recently hired somebody to do artwork for a short film I am making and paid him in full via PayPal. When he presented me with the finished work, I emailed him a copyright release form and asked him to send it back to me with his name, a typed signature and the date filled in. He did. However, he then offered to send it back again with a drawn signature. I accepted his offer, but he did not send it back to me and some weeks have gone by since. I find this troubling.

The reason I asked him to use a typed signature is he is over in the USA and we were working together on this online. If he had not offered to send it with a drawn signature, I would not have seen reason to be concerned. I can see that he has been active on the art forum where I met him, so it would appear that by not answering my messages, he has had second thoughts about sending the copyright release form with a drawn signature.

Is the copyright release form that he filled in with a typed signature legally binding? The release form was extremely thorough and I stated when sending it to him that he should consider his typed signature the same as he would if writing it with a pen.

My second question regards use of my professional or screen name in the copyright release form. I prefer my screen name, so I have started to use it professionally and I used it in the copyright release form but have not actually gone through any legal process to change it officially. Could this in theory affect the validity of the copyright release form?

Thanks for reading this. I would welcome any advice that could be given.


Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:30 pm
by AndyJ
Hi JD,
Depending on the wording of the release form you used, it is most likely that you have something which would constitute a written contract. That is to say that both of you understood the terms, you both wished to be bound by them and the artwork and rights were exchanged for valuable consideration (ie you paid for them).
A handwritten signature is not essential as this is a distance-selling transaction. The same should apply to your screen name if it is one which you trade under. Ideally your legal given name should be used in documents of this sort, because it avoids doubt, but since I assume you are not likely to challenge the contract, then it is of little consequence and wouldn't make the contract void.
There are some minor differences between US and UK law on the wider aspects of this subject. However, the basic law on licences is much the same, and that means that you, as the person who commissioned the artwork, would have an implied licence to use the work in the way you originally explained to the artist you wished to use it, even if he had not signed the release. The fact that you have a signed release should be adequate evidence, should a dispute arise later. You should also keep copies of any emails you both exchanged when you first set up the deal, and any briefs which you provided about what you wanted him to do, if you still have them.

Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:25 pm
by JD
Hi Andy,

Thanks for the advice. Always appreciated!