How does the whole Intellectual Property thing work for artists in the games industry? Their work is owned by the studio/publisher, right? Can they make art of the characters they made for the game and sell it, not for another game, but as a print or something? What about a sort of indirect payment like on a platform like patreon? And if the answer to that is no, why can other artists? What's the difference?

How does the whole Intellectual Property thing work for artists in the games industry? Their work is owned by the studio/publisher, right? Can they make art of the characters they made for the game and sell it, not for another game, but as a print or something? What about a sort of indirect payment like on a platform like patreon? And if the answer to that is no, why can other artists? What’s the difference?

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As is with all legal matters, the answer is always “it depends on what’s written in the specific contract”. Most permanent full-time artists sign work-for-hire contracts, which usually state that everything they create while working for so-and-so is owned 100% by their employer, just like all designed content and code written by designers and programmers is owned by their employer. They do not get the benefit of creating prints of art they’ve done for their own enrichment. In return for this, these artists get a steady paycheck and benefits. Since most game artists do things like build or texture 3D models, create VFX, create UI elements and icons, or build/animate skeletal animation rigs, it’s difficult for them to sell prints of that sort of thing anyway. I’m not sure many people would want to buy a print of a texture map or a confirmation popup.

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There are also temporary, freelance, and/or contract artists who are hired to create art either for a set period of time or on a piece-by-piece basis. Sometimes the contract stipulates that artists can sell the art for personal gain. Wizards of the Coast, for example, allows Magic: The Gathering card artists (who are commissioned to create art for each card) to sell prints, playmats, artist proofs, and even the original physical art (if such a thing exists; many of their artists are strictly digital now). However, this is entirely dependent on the artist, the contractor, and the legal wording of the contract involved. The intellectual property ownership rights of any work created must be described in the contractual language. 

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As far as I know, for things like patreon where you don’t get paid directly for creating infringing artwork, the usual copyright and intellectual property law is in effect. If the issue is (or becomes) noteworthy enough to the owner of the copyright, the artist usually receives a Cease & Desist order that comes from the owner’s legal representation. The copyright owner can’t stop people from paying the artist to create art in general, but the copyright owner can stop the artist from creating artwork that infringes on the owned copyright. In that situation, it is up to the artist’s patrons to decide whether to continue to sponsor the artist if the artist can no longer create infringing art.


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Source: askagamedev
How does the whole Intellectual Property thing work for artists in the games industry? Their work is owned by the studio/publisher, right? Can they make art of the characters they made for the game and sell it, not for another game, but as a print or something? What about a sort of indirect payment like on a platform like patreon? And if the answer to that is no, why can other artists? What’s the difference?

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