Legal Question in Intellectual Property in United Kingdom

I sell pictures for people but sometimes I have to edit those pictures, remove backgrounds, make adjustments etc. and make sure they are good enough to sell. The resulting files are then sold to customers - who owns those actual files?

One client said they now want all the files so they can sell them elsewhere, but their pictures are only in a saleable condition/format because of my work editing.

I don't want this to get awkward (I know I should have something in writing) but I want to know if I'm within my rights to say no, that the new person must edit them, or if I should start to charge for editing (or apply a charge now, to take them elsewhere).

No written contract as such, just verbal and email conversations. When a picture sells we split the money.

Asked on 5/05/12, 3:19 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Fca Prashant Chavan Expert Edge LLP


Dear Sir / Madam,

It lies in your interest to ensure that you do not violate or infringe any provisions of the Copyright Act. When amendments are made with the permission of the original owner of the pictures, there are no violations. Transfer of ownership depends on the terms and conditions agreed - but in layman's language, as long as the original pictures are intact and you have not worked on any improvization, you may prefer that the ownership of those pictures lies with the original owner. Pictures that you have edited / worked on are deemed to be owned by you since the original form has been changed.

One client wanting to purchase all the edited pictures till now is a good business opportunity. Simply agree on a price tag together with the original owner and negotiate a price with the buyer, ask for payment on delivery, hand over all the edited pictures, and split the sales proceeds.

I recommend that since it is piece of art, keep the pictures in joint ownership by entering into a Partnership Deed.

You can mail me for any further on-line advice at [email protected]


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Answered on 5/05/12, 10:12 pm

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