If two or more artists collaborate on a work of art, which one of them will own the copyright?

Who will own the copyright of the finished work?

In the absence of a written contract between the artists, specifying who will be the author(s) of the collaborative work and how the financing of the work will be dealt with, the general provisions of the UK’s Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (and its amendments) will apply.  This means that the copyright including the moral rights in the work created, and any expressions of rough / developing ideas (including drawings and photographs), will be owned jointly.   Copyright will last for the lifetime of the last surviving collaborator, plus 70 years after that person’s death.

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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material. The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.