In the article, “Who owns rights to art when a manager-artist relationship ends?” published by the Daily Journal, Partner Eugene Rome discusses the symbiotic relationship between artists and their managers, and what happens when that relationship dissolves. When relationships end, the ownership of intellectual property rights and associated rights of the work become ambiguous, and neglecting this issue from the outset of the relationship can lead to lost revenue, loss of rights to the art and expensive legal fees.
A common assumption is that the images created by artists automatically belong to them, but that is not always the case. Typically, the rights to images created during a partnership belong to the LLC—meaning that artists have to buy back the rights to their own images in order to reproduce them. In order to avoid this scenario, Mr. Rome advises both parties to steer clear of general LLC agreements, which usually do not address any copyright issues or ownership of derivative rights.
“Artists may not realize the importance of understanding who owns the copyrights to their work, and managers often don’t want to spend thousands of dollars hiring an attorney to draft an agreement suited to their specific needs,” Mr. Rome said. “Therefore, operating agreements or partnership agreements need to be established early, ideally before the partners begin doing business.”