Author editing the artwork I produced for their publication.

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
Post Reply
New Member
New  Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:37 pm

Author editing the artwork I produced for their publication.

Post by alimon24 »

This will be a long post so get comfy!

I had the opportunity last year to illustrate a children's book for an acquaintance whom had written their first book and the opportunity to publish with the help of a new and not well established publishing company.

This Author had to pay for their book to be published and explained to me that they could not pay me but would offer a royalty payment. I will say at this point that I will never work for free again - I have learned from this experience never to work for free ever again. I did though agree to commit to this book and these conditions as I wanted to put it in my portfolio and wanted to gain this experience - I worked very hard to produce a colour cover, approximately 35 black and white illustrations to be displayed throughout the book and some promotional pieces such as posters to help promote the book.

I will also state at this point that I am a very proud illustrator and I take my work extremely seriously.... I have worked proffesionally in the design industry on other projects in the past that have all gone perfectly smoothly with no problems what so ever.

The publishers contract stated that the copyright of any artwork was to be agreed between the author and the illustrator. This is the only document that states anything to do with copyright.

Anyway, the book was published and everything was fine until the Author decided to launch a website for their book. On this website, they have put some of my work as described above (which is perfectly fine by me) but, asked someone else to edit it by adding colour digitally (and very badly) making the work look horrendous. There is of course a credit that the illustrations are by me and a link to my website. But I would be ashamed to have my name attached to the monstrosity that has been created through this editing of my work.

I confronted the Author and demanded that the edited imagery be removed instantly which they did. I also pointed out that it was not acceptable to edit and change my work in this way. The author did do as i asked but very indignantly and refused to take any responsibility (their friend edited it not them - it was an accident - They did not realise that I would be so offended - etc) I will not go into detail, but this is not the first time they have infringed on this type of behavior.

I am concerned that this will continue happening with this person if I do not deal with it as professionally as possible and i would really like to know exactly where I stand. This person is not treating me with professionalism or respect as an artist, I feel as though I have been taken for a fool and I feel uncomfortable that more of these images will be released onto the internet that have been mutilated by this person who seems to have no moral code when it comes to my work.

I have learned an awful lot from this experience, but please if anyone can offer any constructive advise, I would appreciate it greatly as I simply do not trust this person.

Thank you in advance.
User avatar
Posts: 2955
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:43 am

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Alimon,

Thanks for posting all the detail, it really helps me to answer the question.
First of all, irrespective of the sort of agreement that exists between you and the author, because the two elements - the words and the illustrations - are entirely separate, ownership of the respective copyrights is also separate. Your are not joint owners and this means that beyond what you have mutually agreed (namely, that you would produce the illustrations for use in the book on a royalty basis, and allow some of the illustrations to also be used for publicity purposes), the book's author must seek and obtain your permission for any other use which falls outside the basic terms. Equally, you may not do anything with respect to the text without permission.
It is not entirely clear if the use of your work on the website was agreed beforehand, but since you are perfectly fine with it, that doesn't seem to be an issue.
However objectionable it may be, the alteration of your work is not an adaptation of your work, and thus is not infringement, as defined by s 21 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which I quote here in part only:
21 Infringement by making adaptation or act done in relation to adaptation.
(1) The making of an adaptation of the work is an act restricted by the copyright in a literary, dramatic or musical work.
[ ...]
As you can see artistic works are excluded from the this provision. Since you have agreed to the use itself (although not the colouration) on the website, I don't think there is any direct infringement here.
But the same Act also provides some protection for your moral rights, including the right not to have your work dealt with in a derogatory fashion, for which I will only quote the headline part here but which you should read in its entirety by following this link:
80 Right to object to derogatory treatment of work.
(1) The author of a copyright literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, and the director of a copyright film, has the right in the circumstances mentioned in this section not to have his work subjected to derogatory treatment.
Just for the sake of clarity, although s 82 (1)(a) speaks about work done in course of employment, the fact that you were commissioned to undertake this work does not not amount to employment for that purpose. Also note that under s 83, the author who set up the website could also be liable for infringing your moral rights, although since he/she agreed to remove the altered versions, I think this is of only secondary interest.
The remedies available to you are covered under s 103 and, unfortunately, they are pretty weak in the current circumstances:
103 Remedies for infringement of moral rights.
(1) An infringement of a right conferred by Chapter IV (moral rights) is actionable as a breach of statutory duty owed to the person entitled to the right.
(2) In proceedings for infringement of the right conferred by section 80 (right to object to derogatory treatment of work) the court may, if it thinks it is an adequate remedy in the circumstances, grant an injunction on terms prohibiting the doing of any act unless a disclaimer is made, in such terms and in such manner as may be approved by the court, dissociating the author or director from the treatment of the work.
In theory you might be awarded damages but since the offending material has already been removed, there is little a court could do to rectify things, unless you thought the person who did the colouration was likely to try and re-publish those illustrations again elsewhere. To qualify for damages you would need to show that the publication had actually damaged your honour and reputation, which in turn would depend on how many people had viewed the images. But in any case, I would suggest, litigation would be expensive and out of proportion to anything you might hope to gain.
So not that helpful I'm afraid. Morally you are in the right, but you probably knew that beforehand. As you say, chalk it up to experience, and next time get a proper agreement (such as this) before accepting a commission.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
Post Reply