Is it unreasonable to ask for royalties if the client wants to use your album art on t-shirts, prints,etc. ?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it unreasonable to ask for royalties if the client wants to use your album art on t-shirts, prints,etc. ?

the artwork was commissioned for album art but the client wants to put the art
on other stuff to sell. should I give up my rights and let them use it or am I right
asking for royalties?

Asked on January 3, 2019 under Business Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Legally, if you own the rights to the art, it belongs to you, so no one can use it without your permission--and you can make that permission contingent on being paid royalties.
Morally or ethically, why shouldn't you be paid for someone using and profiting by something you own? Negotiate a royalty rate fair to both of you, and then put into a agreement which you both sign that they have the right to use the artwork for certain purposes (list in the agreement; you can always amend the agreement to add other uses), subject to your approval of the uses (you want to make sure it is not used in a way that harms you), so long as you are paid a certain amount of royalties. Also put in when the royalties must be paid (monthly, quarterly, etc.--whatever you and he agree to).

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