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Old Nov 12, 2004, 12:35 PM   #11
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 378

Sorry I didn't see this until so late... hope my information is useful...

You, as the copyright owner, may sell any or all of the "bundle of rights" that you have in the image (i.e. the right to copy, the right to sell, the right to create "derivative works" (pieces that are modifications of the original)). You want to sell a (non-exclusive) license defining the scope and nature of the rights granted to the shop owner. Such a license can contain requirements for payment based on volume sales, restrictions on the way in which the shop owner can modify the work, and whether the license must be regularly renewed, for example.

You don't have to register the copyright to have copyright protection; however, it's a lot easier to prove your copy-rights when it's been registered, and there are some forms of damages that are not available unless/until you register. So definitely do that. It's pretty simple to do: information is at http://www.copyright.gov/register/visual.html.

Because of the commercial nature of this possible transaction, there might be internationalcopyright concerns (a US copyright registration really only applies to possible infringements in the United States; for international copyrights, you have to look to the provisions of the Berne Convention, which are generally NOT as protective as American copyrights).

As to valuation, you can ask around... or you can ask yourself: What is this particular picture worth to me and the shopkeeper. If all goes as planned, he will use this as his image in the marketplace--it will create value by increasing the goodwill of his business. Thus, it's not a cheapy thing. On the other hand, what's to stop him from just calling up a freelancer, paying hima few hundred dollars for a few hours' work, closely reproducing your image, but as a work for hire (where the shopkeeper would own the copyright to the images with unlimited copying and modification rights)? Thus, you want your work to be valued fairly, but don't price yourself out of the market. Plus, if you get sufficient attribution on most of the prints made (probably not on the logo, but on shirts, etc) then that brings goodwill your way, too.

This instance is particularly interesting because the shop owner is planning to use the photo as part of his logo; thus, he will want to reserve exclusive trademark rights in the use of the image (which would probably not affect your copyrights in the image, but may. For example: Shopkeeper uses picture as his logo, with your permission. Later, you also license the picture to be the cover image of a surfing photo book. Shopkeeper sues book publisher for trademark violation because they're "passing off" their book as being from his store because they're using part his "logo" to get consumers to buy the book. Fun huh!).

The long and short of all of this is: If you think this is worth more than $500 to you, CONSULT A COPYRIGHT LAWYER. You can call the state bar association for referrals.An experienced copyright lawyer will have (1) prewritten licenses so that this process won't cost an arm and a leg, (2) helpful advice as to exactly what the scope of the license should be, (3) knowledge of international copyright law to protect you, (4) advice regarding the copyright/trademark interaction, (5) even possible ideas about thevalue of the license (as someone who sees licenses, he might have an idea about the market value in this case).

The lawyer might take a chunk of change out of the value of the deal, but her expertise will ensure that things go smoothly from now on... (spend $300 to ensure a good license vs. spend $30,000 fighting over this in court in 10 years).

Good luck; let us know what happens.

Kyle K.
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