An artist asked me this question on Facebook:
I have designed some images that I want to submit to publishers for Licensing, however, before I do that do I need to protect my work? And if so how do I go about doing that. I live in England….
Good question! I assumed that if the art was going to be on products in the US market, it would be wise to register it in the US with the Library of Congress.
Whenever issues of copyright infringement or contract disputes arise, they are dealt with in the country of origin. A few years ago when one of my Canadian licensees went bankrupt in Canada owing me a nice sum of money, I looked into what recourse was available. After consulting with a free business attorney through SCORE to decide if I should hire an attorney, I was basically told that I would have to have a US attorney who would hire a Canadian attorney to try to get money from a defunct company. Basically, I’d be throwing good money after bad so I shed a few tears, dusted myself off and got back to work.
So if you are an artist from outside the US but want to license your art for use within the US – you should register your art with the Library of Congress. That way if there is an infringement in the US, you have some recourse.
I double checked these assumptions with Attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer and she agreed and gave me the link for foreigners to learn about how to go about registering their copyrights in the US.
If you are a non-US based artist licensing art into the US market, read this information from the Library of Congress: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-who.html#foreigners
Kyle-Beth offers more information about art licensing law at http://kbhilferlaw.com/category/licensing-law/ and you can get a copy of her first Ask Call mp3 audio for free at AskAboutArtLicensing.com/get-free-call-replays/