One of the most difficult things about making things is knowing what your rights are when you try to sell them. I know lots of very experienced professionals who are in ignorance of this basic business issue. This ignorance can lead to a lot of difficult financial and legal problems. The most basic confusion I come across is that between possession of copyright and the licensing of rights.
Briefly, at any time an artist makes a piece of art he has copyright automatically, without doing anything. It is an ‘implicit’ right earned by the skill and time and labour which the artwork has taken. There’s a link explaining more about it here. You can download a pdf factsheet here. Importantly, before any self-employed artist has no legal claim to copyright, they have to have signed it away, in writing. Once this basic legal idea is understood, things can seem a lot clearer.
Essentially, what creative people like me sell are the rights to use our artwork, usually, exclusively. I will write some more about this.
Matt Buck’s animated drawings