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Visual Creators

Art has an important place in making published works more accessible, intelligible and attractive and visual creators (illustrators, photographers, artists) need to be remunerated for their contribution to these works, be they books, magazines, journals or websites. Discover how we work with the Irish Visual Arts Rights Organisation (IVARO) to remunerate secondary uses of visual creators’ work (copying/sharing) and ensure original work is duly acknowledged.

How ICLA’s licences relate to artistic works

As a visual creator (illustrator, photographer, artist) your work is included in ICLA’s licences where it has been published within a book, magazine, journal or as an illustration for/with text on a website or other online publication. ICLA’s licences do not apply to standalone works of art, but images published with text can be disembedded from the text and used separately under the educational licences, solely for the educational purposes set out in the licences.

The work of visual creators is included in the ICLA licences on the basis of a mandate from the Irish Visual Artist Rights Organisation (IVARO). However, where a visual creator is a significant contributor to a published work (named as illustrator or photographer on the title page), they can mandate us, and receive remuneration directly.

ICLA reserves 4% of the licence fees collected nationally for visual creators and these monies are distributed by IVARO. For visual content included in Irish-published works apply to IVARO’s Return Scheme for fees that may be due to you; for UK-published works apply to the DACS Payback scheme.

Relationship between visual creator and publisher – what does the artist have to decide?

When a visual creator creates an original work, it is automatically their copyright. If they then wish to publish their work, they can do this themselves via many established and new channels, including their own website, or by including it within a picture library or equivalent. In such cases, the visual creator must decide what rules and prices to set for onward use of their work, or to abide by the established terms and conditions of the picture library.

Alternatively, a publisher may commission the visual creator to illustrate a published work; in such cases the creator will be required to assign relevant rights to the publisher in return for a fixed fee, royalty or combination of the two.

There is a balance to be struck here, and it is important for the visual creator to include provisions for the work going out of print and/or the publisher ceasing to trade for any reason, in which case rights should revert to the creator. These are crucial decisions for the creator to agree with the publisher, or for an agent to make on their behalf.

In giving rights to a publisher, the visual creator must be sure they will be properly remunerated for any of the publisher’s successes based on the quality and originality of the artwork.

In return, the publisher will need a ‘warranty and indemnity’ that the visual creator’s work is original. If the visual creator has in fact copied their work from another copyright work but not admitted that, they will be liable for any damage claims that arise – not the publisher.

For advice on illustrators’ contracts we recommend Illustrators Ireland’s Guide to Commissioning Illustrators.

Visual creators’ questions – answered

A work is protected automatically from the time it is first created or recorded in some way, provided that it has resulted from the creator’s skill and effort and is not simply copied from another work. Learn more in copyright FAQs

Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, styles, techniques, data or information. For example, if you sketch an outline of your idea for a TV show, the outline itself will be protected by copyright. However, another person could create their own work using your general ideas without necessarily infringing copyright. Learn more in copyright FAQs

There is no system of registration for copyright protection in Ireland as copyright arises automatically on the creation of an original work. You do not need to publish your work, to put a copyright notice on it or do anything else to be covered by copyright – protection is free and automatic. Learn more about copyright protection

Yes. The Copyright Act provides that copyright in a work may be owned jointly if two or more creators have made indistinguishable contributions to its creation. Joint ownership of copyright can also be provided for in an agreement between the creators.

A copyright notice does not need to be placed on a work before it is protected by copyright. However, it is prudent to do so as it reminds people that the work is protected and identifies the person claiming the rights. The notice usually consists of the symbol © followed by the name of the author and the date of creation.

If you are an employee (rather than a freelancer or independent contractor) and it was part of your duties to create the work, then your employer will own copyright in the work, unless you and your employer had an agreement to the contrary. Make sure at the outset that both you and your employer are clear what the arrangement is so there is no room for misunderstandings later.

As the author of the work you will own copyright in it, unless you assigned copyright to the commissioning company. An assignment must be in writing and signed by you to be legally effective. The company will generally have the right to use the work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. Make sure when you agree to undertake the work that a formal agreement is in place that clarifies ownership and rights.

A visual creator cannot prevent the copying, or other use of their work, if that use is covered by one of the exceptions to copyright, such as copying for research or private study, criticism, parody, review or reporting of current events. The use of works for certain educational purposes is also permitted. ICLA’s educational licences cover some of these educational exceptions and remunerate rights holders for these uses. Learn more about exceptions

An exception to copyright for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche was introduced by the Copyright & Other Intellectual Property Law Provisions Act 2019. This means that in principle it is possible to create parodies that re-use works protected by copyright without having to obtain permission from the rightsholders. However, it is important to note that the use of copyright works for parody purposes is only allowed insofar as it can be considered ‘fair dealing’. Learn more about Fair Dealing

The first thing to do is to flag the infringement. By contacting the person or company who has used your work you give them a chance to stop. You can either ask them to stop using your work, or you can give permission for them to continue. If the infringement continues, you can seek legal advice.