Keep Your Copyright campaign

Illustrators are increasingly being asked to sign away their copyright, with more commissioners asking for a copyright assignment as part of their contracts instead of licensing the artwork. As copyright is an economic right illustrators can lose out financially from assignments.

Agreeing to these assignments sets the expectation that other illustrators will do the same, which damages our foundation as a licence-based industry.

Illustration Olivier Heiligers

The AOI has launched the Keep Your Copyright campaign aiming to reverse this harmful practice before it becomes too prevalent.

The Objectives

We’re calling on illustrators and commissioners to unite and push back on copyright assignments.

• Let’s create an open dialogue with commissioners, clients and illustrators, around the importance of copyright and licensing.

• Let’s reduce the number of copyright assignments across the illustration industry, and encourage creators to retain the copyright in their work.

• Let’s make information about copyright and licensing accessible to everyone, whether you’re a new graduate, self-taught, or just in need of a recap.

According to the AOI’s 2021 membership survey, 34% of illustrators said they don’t have a good understanding of licensing, and 44% don’t feel confident negotiating contract terms with clients.

We want to empower illustrators by equipping them with the tools they need to understand copyright and licensing, and how to negotiate better contractual terms with confidence. We also want to better inform commissioners, so they understand the importance of licence-based industries.

The Toolkit

• For Illustrators – Read the AOI public resource on copyright assignments, including advice on how to negotiate a fairer deal. Link to the ‘How to Licence Illustration’ resource on your website to help clients who are new to commissioning illustration (download a visual hyperlinked button here)

• Commissioners – Read the new resource on the benefits of licensing for all parties involved.

• Subscribe to the AOI weekly ‘Keep Your Copyright’ series, featuring valuable insights from illustrators, agents and commissioners. [include link]

• Sign up to  to the AOI FREE online event 9 February 2022 – Keep Your Copyright: Licensing and Negotiation 101

If you’re an AOI member you can also use the Pricing Calculator to understand how a licence fee is formulated.

How else can you get involved?

Spread the word!

It’s never been more important for creators – including illustrators – to do everything in their power to protect their copyright and retain autonomy over their work. If you are an author, photographer, musician, journalist or visual artist, we invite you to be part of our mission.

If you write for a creative news platform, consider featuring our campaign. Feel free to contact the AOI team (details below) to discuss organising a bespoke article.

Help us get the message out there so that we can connect with as many creators, agents, commissioners, clients and universities as possible. Repost the resources on your social media channels, share your own experiences of copyright and licensing with your communities.

Use the hashtag #KeepYourCopyright to show your support. Download our Press Kit and share our campaign visual, with credit to Olivier Heiligers (@olivierheiligers)