Thursday, June 27, 2013

Needs Minor's Consent For Cover Artwork

Dear Rich: I am creating a book cover for a book I wrote. I would like to use some images created by a kid. Although I don’t know them, the kid’s parents and I share what I consider a good friend. The kid spent a good amount of time creating these images for me, and I really want to give her credit for them in print – both inside the book, and on the back cover where the images will be. Just a statement indicating she created them, and that she and I share copyright on the cover. What are the legal ramifications of doing so, based on her being a minor? Can I feasibly do this with a simple release of some kind? Her parents are all for it, and have indicated they are willing to sign whatever I come up with – once they read it of course. Compensation for my use of the images has already been discussed, and agreed on. The Dear Rich Staff is no stranger to commissioning artwork for kids book covers. (Check out Steve Purcell's awesome cover for one of our free kid's books.) To acquire these rights, we usually license the artwork for exclusive use in connection with books and allow the artist to retain copyright. In that way we're the only ones who can use it on a book cover but the artist can reproduce the imagery for other purposes. You can do that by creating a simple license agreement ("The artist licenses to author .... etc.") Alternatively, you can do what many book publishers do and acquire the copyright via an assignment agreement. In that case, you, not the artist would control all rights to the illustrations ("The artist assigns to author ... etc.") (This article explains the differences between assignments and licenses.) You wouldn't use a release unless you needed to get permission from a model or a person whose image is featured in the artwork. (You can find all of the forms discussed above in our permissions book.)
When a minor's consent is needed ... A minor (a person under 18 in most states) lacks the capacity to enter into a contract. What that means is that if a minor signs an agreement the minor can void (terminate) the agreement any time before reaching 18. If the minor turns 18 and hasn't ended the agreement, it can no longer be voided. For that reason, persons entering into contracts with minors also seek the consent of the parent or guardian, usually with a statement such as "I am the parent or guardian of the minor named above. I have the legal right to consent to and do consent to the terms and conditions of this agreement."

2 comments:

  1. What's the effect of a parent signing the agreement with the statement that you note? Do you think the parent's signature cuts off the minor's right to void the license agreement while still a minor?

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  2. We answered this at the blog: http://dearrichblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/more-on-parental-consent-for-contracts.html

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