Q: Question on character / species design copyright
We asked an artist who was a friend to help w/ art for a char of a fake species we're designing. My bestie offered to do an art trade for the art. Since the artist was a friend of ours she offered to just do the art for free instead. Her, my BF and bestie all collab'd on the art. He had a description of the char & species already written out that the artist used for creativity to draw it out in art form. My friend also helped explain more about the details of the char & even drew up art of certain details for the char which were provided to the artist. We at one point even offered $ for the art to help fund her - but she insisted on doing it for free. We had a fall out as friends with said artist recently due to personal issues before the art was fully finished. The artist decided to try "taking back the free art she did" due to the issues we had & is now trying to post it online and make her own fake species & lore using the artwork originally intended for his character & species.
A: You haven't asked a question, but I assume you'd like to know whether your friend can post this work online and would like to know who owns the work.
17 USC 101 defines a "joint work" as a "work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole." The authors of joint work are considered joint copyright owners. Joint copyright owners have an equal right to register and enforce the copyright. Unless the joint owners make a written agreement to the contrary, each copyright owner has the right to exploit the copyright, provided that the other copyright owners get an equal share of the proceeds.
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