Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sending sculpture photos to foundry

Dear Rich: I am a long-time artist, but never serious until now. I took up clay with lost wax in mind, and am now at the point of contacting a foundry to begin the process. What do I need to do and/or know prior to actually sending them any photos? I'm so glad you asked. The short answer to your question is "That depends..." The Dear Rich staff presumes you're concerned about either (1) the foundry ripping off your work, or (2) that the foundry will make some claim of co-authorship. As for being ripped off, as our Dear Rich readers know, you have a copyright in the photos (and any resulting sculpture) without doing anything. You can file a copyright application if you like (we recommend the new Form CO) and that will provide additional rights in the event of an infringement. You could also have the foundry sign an agreement (PDF) not to disclose or reproduce your work. That agreement could also deal with your second issue by having the foundry acknowledge that it acquires no rights in the resulting sculpture (and any rights it does acquire are assigned to you). (This site has helpful information about dealing with foundries.) Our guess is that the foundry is used to artists raising such issues and may even have such an agreement available. If they don't (and the agreement cited above doesn't work), you can put together an informal agreement yourself, or get one from one of Nolo's independent contractor books. All of these suggestions are based on the assumption the foundry is in the U.S. If it's in a foreign nation, you'll have a harder time enforcing agreements and copyright.