If you ask me to create a painting for your home, I will create that painting for you for the cost of my time plus materials. However, if you would like to start a business and want to use a reproduction of that painting as a part of your branding, you need to seek permission to do this. Commercial use of work is no longer a personal use. It is to promote your business and this has a higher value and this will have a price. To get it all clear, let’s start with the copyright. 

‘If you make it, you own it’. Copyright is actually a bundle of rights including the right to copy, reproduce, publicly display, publicly perform and make derivative works. Copyright automatically belongs to the creator unless it is transfers and stated in writing. There are many reasons why there is value to owning the copyright of a piece of work and why you also probably do not need that level of use for your project. Owning the copyright essentially means that you are free to reproduce work as you please, edit in any way you choose and sell it worldwide. It also means I (the artist) can no longer put my name to the piece of work, use it in my portfolio or promote myself. That’s why I am licensing my work. 

A license is simply the permission I give you to use my art work and to define the boundaries of how you may use my work. Licensing means, renting a commissioned (or pre-existing) design or illustration for a specific purpose, for a specific period of time and following specific geographical limits. 

The license fee
If you want to sell products with my illustration or design on it, licensing can take the form of royalties (percentage of 5-8% on each item sold) or a flat fee (agreed upfront). Licensing details will be written in a contract, ‘The License Agreement’.

The things what affect the cost of a license fee
1. Usage: What will the design be used for? On which products do you want to put the design on? How big is your business? 
2. Territory: Where will the products be sold? The wider the use, the higher the cost.
3. Duration: How long would you like to be able to use the design for? If you plan to use the art work for decades then the value is much higher than a piece of work that’s only in use for a year.  

Exclusive vs. non-exclusive
When art work is licensed as ‘exclusive’, you will be the only one to be able to use the work for the agreed territory and duration. 

A non-exclusive license is the opposite of the exclusive: it gives you the right to use the artwork but does not restrict other form licensing it as well. 

I you would like to use my designs without restrictions, this is possible! You can choose to use a design without any limitations and it’s called ‘a buyout’.  The licensing fee, in this case, will be much higher than a standard, limited licensing. 

Please note that a buyout is not a Copyright transfer. I retain the right to be recognized as the author of the design, and I may use the image for self-promotion, for example on my portfolio.