Just because you went to art school instead of law school doesn't mean that you're destined to be taken advantage of. With the help of The Artist's Friendly Legal Guide
you can take the necessary steps to protect your rights and avoid undo scrutiny from the IRS. In simple terms the Guide explains all about copyrights, contracts, bookkeeping and tax returns; and each section includes samples of invoices, purchase orders, contracts and tax forms to help designers, writers, cartoonists and other artists in their dealings with both individuals and businesses. Remember, don't be shy about asking for your agreement in writing, because the only one looking out for your interests is you. -- From The WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women; review by FGP
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Many artists believe that when an artwork is created for a client, the client becomes the owner of that work. Fortunately for the knowledgeable artist, a transfer of rights is not that simple. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, each work involves a "bundle of rights," and any one or a number of those rights can be transferred to one client or many different clients.
To have protection there must be fixation; in other words, your work must be "put on paper." Copyright law does not protect works that exist merely in the imagination. For example, if you develop in your mind the artwork for an advertisement and disclose the concept to an advertising agency, you can't properly sue the advertising agency for copyright infringement if it steals your work. When the work is put on paper, recorded on a phonorecord, entered into a computer's memory, or otherwise can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated on or from a tangible medium, then copyright protection applies...