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CopyWrong, Part 3

, , , , , | Right | November 13, 2022

My dad put me in touch with an old friend who’d just written a book, which needed some illustrations. Working with him was very casual so, because I was a naive college graduate, I didn’t make him sign a contract. The topic of copyrights didn’t come up at all until he brought me the first draft of the printed book. I was excited to see my name as the illustrator, but my name — and my copyright — was nowhere to be found.

Me: “I think you made a mistake here. It says you own the copyrights to my illustrations.”

Client: “Oh, no. I purchased the copyright when I paid you.”

Me: “No, you didn’t.”

Client: “Yes, I did. We talked about this.”

Me: “No, we didn’t. Ever.”

Client: “Oh. Well, it must have been because I was so sick recently. But they are mine, anyway.”

I argued with him for days that, as the artist, I maintained copyright privileges and that I just wanted the right to be able to display my work in my portfolio online, but he was paranoid about it. I think he thought that if people could see the pictures on my website, then no one would buy his book. Finally, we agreed that I would sign away the copyright on the condition that I could use the illustrations on social media to promote my work.

A week later, I get a threatening letter from a lawyer saying [Client] would sue me if he saw any of those illustrations on said social media. I didn’t have the money to try and see if I could call his bluff or if he really meant it, so I took everything down. I did over sixty drawings for that man, and my name and credit didn’t end up anywhere in the final printing.

CopyWrong, Part 2

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