Pro-Action wrote to Mairead Keohane, Legalease Director of Operations, and Eduardo Reyes, Editor of In House Lawyer, in January 2010 asking that they explain their Standard Terms and Conditions. These give Legalease the right to reuse the commissioned artwork in any current or future Legalease publication, title, or website, when the fee offered may not be sufficient for these rights. Also that they may retain artwork, but accept no responsibility for it.
Pro-Action pointed out that additional rights in an illustration should only be assigned to the client with sufficient and fair remuneration to the artist, and that artwork should be returned.
We asked Legalease to respond to these points and questions in connection with their Standard Terms and Conditions::
- Why does Legalease insist that we shall have an unlimited license to use all or part of the materials in any current or future Legalease publication, title, or website, when the fees offered do not reflect such a grant of rights? Legalease publish a substantial number of titles and therefore may potentially exploit commissioned illustrations by re-publishing them any number of times in volume form or on the web.
- Why does Legalease not automatically return physical artwork once published, or accept responsibility for artwork in their possession? Artwork has value and the illustrator should not be required to request its return, or accept that the artwork has been lost, damaged or destroyed without compensation being offered. Adequate insurance for artwork should be in place. If Legalease do not usually return original artwork, but are not responsible for storing or retaining them, what happens to this artwork? Is it destroyed? Such retention adds no value to Legaleases licensing rights.
One of the reasons the AOI was set up in 1973 was to ensure the return of artwork to the creator, and it is unacceptable that the practice of retaining artwork is still applied by Legalease.
Pro-Action suggested that a fairer standard contract provided by Legalease could increase Legaleases access to illustrators they may wish to commission and would boost the organisations ethical standing.
Pro-Action has received no response to date from Legalease.
Pro-Action advise all illustrators not to accept commissions under terms such as those requested in the Legalease Standard Terms and Conditions. See Argument section for points raised by Pro-Action over Legaleases contract.
Pro-Action recommend that all illustrators should ask that a clause requesting additional usage for no payment be struck out, or negotiate a licence consisting of terms and fees priced on usage, territory and duration, i.e. so that the fee offered is sufficient to cover the rights requested.
AOI members may contact the association for further advice. Illustrators represented by an SAA member agent should contact their agent for additional advice.