Copyright gives the author the exclusive right to determine the use of his or her work. This means that the production, presentation, display or distribution of the work in public is prohibited without the permission of the author.

However, the author may, at his or her discretion, give up all or some of the copyright-protected economic rights for a financial reward. These rights can also be transferred for an indefinite or fixed period. Any contract to transfer such rights should always be made in writing and in unambiguous terms.

By agreement, the author may restrict the scope of the transfer in terms of the location, time and purpose for which the work is allowed to be used. The recipient of the rights may not alter the work or transfer the rights to a third party unless otherwise agreed.

The contract templates by the Artists’ Association of Finland include copyright clauses. You can use individual clauses from these templates when drafting your own contracts. You should compare the copyright clauses in the contract draft provided by the buyer/commissioner/art gallery with those in the Artists’ Association of Finland templates. If there are any provisions in the contract draft that deviate from those in the Artists’ Association of Finland templates, you should ask for clarification as to why such provisions should be included in the contract.

Copyright clauses

Below, you will find some examples of copyright clauses:

“All copyright in the work shall remain with the Artist, including the right of access. Any copyrighted use of the work shall be separately agreed upon with the Artist/Kuvasto ry.”

The above clause confirms the copyright as belonging to the author in its entirety by law.

The Artists’ Association of Finland has drawn up contractual terms that you can include as part of your contracts relating to individual works of art. For example:

“All copyrights that have not specifically been transferred under the contract shall remain with the artist without this limiting any of the rights of the author under the Finnish Copyright Act. The name of the artist and the work shall always be stated in accordance with good practice when using images of the work. Any use of the work for the purpose of making a profit shall be agreed with Kuvasto ry or the Artist.

“The contractual partner shall not have the right to use the work in a way that infringes on the author’s moral rights. If the reproduction of the work has been authorised by agreement, the name of the author and the work shall always be stated where the work has been reproduced.

“The artist shall be responsible for ensuring that the work or part thereof does not in any way infringe on the copyright or other rights of third parties under the Finnish Copyright Act or other intellectual property rights. Moreover, the artist declares that he/she has exclusive rights to the work and/or related works referred to in this contract, and that no other rights or claims apply to the work or related rights, and that entering into a contract on the work or related rights does not require the consent of any other party.”

In addition, this clause does not make any changes to the copyright granted to the author by law; instead, any transfer of copyright must be agreed in a separate contract. The above clause confirms central copyrights: the author’s exclusive right, right of paternity (name of the author must be stated), the requirement to obtain permission for the use of the author’s work and the obligation to take account of copyright owned by a third party.

Transfer of copyright by agreement

When you are negotiating a contract with an art gallery or buyer/commissioner, you will also be discussing the copyrighted use of your work. You should always pay special attention to any copyright transfer clauses in sales and commission contracts and consider the actual situations that may arise during the lifespan of your work of art.

In the case of public art, provisions on the lifespan of the artwork are sometimes included in the contract. Some works may be intended as temporary to begin with. Such provisions on lifespan typically limit the artist’s copyright. For example, the work may be removed or dismantled after a fixed period without it being an infringement on the artist’s copyright. You should consider how involved you want to be in deciding what happens to your work when the circumstances change. In particular, sales or commission contracts on public art may include a stipulation on the transfer or dismantling of the work:

“The work shall be placed in the agreed location. The commissioner may, without copyright limitations and for technical or similar reasons, transfer, maintain or repair the work.”

Contracts you enter with art galleries will usually include the transfer of copyright in connection with marketing and communications related to the works displayed in the gallery.

“The art gallery may photograph the works and make the photographs available to the public for sale and marketing purposes on the gallery website for the duration of the exhibition.”

Without such a clause, the art gallery is not allowed to post photographs of your work on its website. If it is in a collection, it is permissible to photograph a work of art to be exhibited or offered for sale for the purposes of including it in a catalogue or advertising an exhibition or sale. A collection or exhibition catalogue may only be produced without the permission of the artist and without remuneration if it is a printed catalogue. Permission from the artist is always needed to produce a digital catalogue.

If your works are displayed in art galleries and museums, you should carefully consider if you want them to be photographed and the pictures published on social media platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook. You have an exclusive right to decide if pictures of your works of art are published on social media, and no one is permitted to do so without your permission. However, if you so choose, it is possible to include a clause in the contract whereby you consent to the publication of photographs taken by visitors to the exhibition on social media and thereby authorise the art gallery to notify visitors that the publication of photographs taken of your work is permitted. A clause like this could read:

“The artist consents to the publication on social media of photographs of his/her works displayed in the art gallery, provided that the publication is for non-profit purposes and the name of the artist is always stated in accordance with good practice. The art gallery shall convey the artist’s consent to visitors to the exhibition.”

Limitations to copyright transfer

You cannot transfer all of your rights as the copyright owner. You can only fully transfer the economic rights under your copyright. You cannot fully transfer your moral rights (right of paternity and right of integrity). Moral rights entail that the name of the author must be stated in accordance with good practice and that the work may not be altered in a manner which is prejudicial to the author’s literary or artistic reputation or his or her individuality. The work may also not be made available to the public in such a form or context as to prejudice the author. Moreover, you cannot transfer your right to resale remuneration.

Kuvasto members should note that they should not transfer to any party such economic rights under copyright whose management they have assigned to Kuvasto ry. Otherwise, Kuvasto ry may collect and pay you copyright remuneration for rights that you have transferred to someone else.