What are intellectual property rights for a book cover vs. an author’s book with the cover?

My daughter wrote a book. We are getting the book cover designed. The designer says she has intellectual property rights. Can she legally use the same design for another book or merchandise? Also, will we have to pay her any royalties?

Asked on March 17, 2016 under Business Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Actually, if you hire her to design the book cover for you, *you* would typically hold the rights, since this would be a "work made for hire"--a commissioned or hired work, which belongs to the person paying for it.
That said, the best way to resolve this is by an agreement which makes it clear that you have the rights. If she won't sign such an agreement, that means that even though you should be the rights owners, she may be intending to reuse the art/design...and if you don't want that to happen, you should go to a different artist.

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