The Joint Ethics Committee
Code of Fair Practice

Formulated in 1948, the Code was conceived to promote equity for those engaged in creating, selling, buying, and using graphic arts. The Code has been used successfully since its formulation by thousands of industry professionals to establish equitable relationships in the practices of selling and buying art.

The word "artist" should be understood to include creative people in the field of visual communications such as illustration, graphic design, photography, film, and television. This code provides the graphic communications industry with an accepted standard of ethics and professional conduct. It presents guidelines for the voluntary conduct of persons in the industry, which may be modified by written agreement between the parties. Each artist individually should decide whether to enter art contests or design competitions, provide free services, work on speculation, or work on a contingent basis. Each artist should decide independently how to price his or her work.

Article 1. Negotiations between an artist or the artist's representative and a client should be conducted only through an authorized buyer.

Article 2. Orders or agreements between an artist or artist's representative and buyer should be in writing and shall include the specific rights which are being transferred, the specific fee arrangement agreed to by the parties, delivery date, and a summarized description of the work.

Article 3. All changes or additions not due to the fault of the artist or artist's representative should be billed to the buyer as an additional and separate charge.

Article 4. There should be no charges to the buyer for revisions or retakes made necessary by errors on the part of the artist or the artist's representative.

Article 5. If work commissioned by a buyer is postponed or cancelled, a "kill-fee" should be negotiated based on time allotted, effort expended and expenses incurred.

Article 6. Completed work shall be paid for in full and the artwork shall be returned promptly to the artist.

Article 7. Alterations shall not be made without consulting the artist. Where alterations or retakes are necessary, the artist shall be given the opportunity of making such changes.

Article 8. The artist shall notify the buyer of any anticipated delay in delivery. Should the artist fail to keep the contract through unreasonable delay or nonconformance with agreed specifications, it will be considered a breach of contract by the artist.

Article 9. *

Article 10. There shall be no undisclosed rebates, discounts, gifts, or bonuses requested by or given to buyers by the artist or representative.

Article 11. Artwork and copyright ownership are vested in the hands of the artist.

Article 12. Original artwork remains the property of the artist unless it is specifically purchased. It is distInct from the purchase of any reproduction rights. All transactions shall be in writing.

Article 13. In case of copyright transfers, only specified rights are transferred. All unspecified rights remain vested with the artist. All transactions shall be in writing.

Article 14. Commissioned artwork is not to be considered as "work for hire".

Article 15. When the price of work is based on limited use and later such work is used more extensively, the artist shall receive additional payment.

Article 16. If exploratory work, comprehensives, or preliminary photography from an assignment are subsequently used for reproduction, the artist's prior permission shall be secured and the artist shall receive fair additional payment.

Article 17. If exploratory work, comprehensives, or photographs are bought from an artist with the intention or possibility that another artist will be assigned to do the finished work, this shall be in writing at the time of placing the order.

Article 18. If no transfer of copyright ownership has been executed, the publisher of any reproduction of artwork shall publish the artist's copyright notice if the artist so requests at the time of agreement.

Article 19. The right to remove the artist's name on published artwork is subject to agreement between artist and buyer.

Article 20. There shall be no plagiarism of any artwork.

Article 21. If an artist is specifically requested to produce any artwork during unreasonable working hours, fair additional remuneration shall be paid.

Article 22. All artwork or photography submitted as samples to a buyer should bear the name of the artists responsible for the work. An artist shall not claim authorship of another's work.

Article 23. All companies and their employees who receive artist portfolios, samples, etc. shall be responsible for the return of the portfolio to the artist in the same condition as received.

Article 24. An artist entering into an agreement with a representative, studio, or production company for an exclusive representation shall not accept an order from nor permit work to be shown by any other representative or studio. Any agreement which is not intended to be exclusive should set forth the exact restrictions agreed upon between the parties.

Article 25. No representative should continue to show an artist's samples after the termination of an association.

Article 26. After termination of an association between artist and representative, the representative should be entitled to a commission for a period of six months on accounts which the representative has secured, unless otherwise specified by contract.

Article 27. Examples of an artist's work furnished to a representative or submitted to a prospective buyer shall remain the property of the artist's consent and shall be returned promptly to the artist in good condition.

Article 28. *

Article 29. Interpretation of the Code for the purposes of mediation and arbitration shall be in the hands of the Joint Ethics Committee and is subject to changes and additions at the discretion of the parent organizations through their appointed representatives on the Committee. Submitting to mediation and arbitration under the auspices of the Joint Ethics Committee is voluntary and requires the consent of all parties to the dispute.

Article 30. Work on speculation: contests. The artist should be alert to potential exploitation by prospective clients who ask the artist to submit work without any assurance of payment, either as "work on speculation" or in the form of a "contest" under improper circumstances.

(i) The artist should be alert to parties who solicit work on speculation or who sponsor contests but have no intention of actually paying for any artist's services, and instead intend to sample work submitted by various artists at no cost for the purpose of misappropriating them for their own use or for the purpose of using them as a basis of comparison against work being performed by another artists.
(ii) The artist should be alert to parties who engage in false advertising, especially in connection with contests. Artists may be encouraged to create and submit work on the expectation that a winner will be chosen and awarded a prize, when in fact there may be no winner and no prize.
(iii) The artist should be alert to violations of the federal copyright laws. If an artist is asked to create and submit work, and that work is stolen or copied without disclosing this in advance.
(iv) The artist should be alert to violations of the federal copyright laws. If an artist is asked to create and submit work, and that work is stolen or copied without permission and with no compensation to the artist, this can amount to copyright infringement.
(v) The artist may be able to protect against abuses of this kind by entering into an agreement with the other party prior to or at the time of submitting any work explicitly addressing these issues. The terms are up to the artist and the other party, of course. Each artist should decide individually whether to enter contests or design competitions, provide free services, work on speculation, or work on a contingent basis. These practices are not at variance with the Code, but the artist is entitled to determine in advance whether full disclosure is being made as to the purpose for which the competition is being held, the likelihood of being selected, the prospects for remuneration, the use to which the works will be put, the persons to whom the works will be shown, arrangements for return of the work, the ownership of all copyrights, and other material features of the solicitation. Moreover, each artist should independently decide how to price his or her work.

*Articles 9 and 28 have been deleted from this publication and are replaced by Article 30.

Artwork ownership, copyright, and ownership and rights transferred after January 1, 1978, are to be in compliance with the Federal Copyright Revision Act of 1976.

Copyright 1995 by The Joint Ethics Committee, Post Office Box Number 179, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10017.

Courtesy of:
The Graphic Artists Guild, New York