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I worked as illustrator, cartoonist and writer for some magazines and books in Italy (on paper and on line), but I never signed any contract and I never received money. Some publisher asked to me to send inedited works only, for the publication, and to put a link to their magazines while using my works elsewhere. This request was made by email.

Now I stopped working since more than a year, and another italian publisher made me an offer, that's to say re-using my old works for collecting them on a website, on some e-books, for some products which will give me some profit, so he asked to me the permission of keeping my comics and illustrations from my personal blog for such purpose.

My doubt is-> since my personal blog does contain works which have been published on the magazines and books I mentioned, I wonder if I should worry about the copyright: am I supposed to ask the permission to the previous publishers before using them for other porpuses, both personal and commercial?

In other words: since I never signed any contract, am I the copyright owner of all my works?

(If I don't, may my works be re-published by mentioning the previous medias, at least?)

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The creator of the work (you) holds the copyright, unless you're hired to create the work in which case the employer holds copyright. You can transfer that right to e.g. a publisher, or you can give them permission to copy the work in a certain way (a license). The way it is supposed to work is that the creator signs either a transfer of rights of executes a license, so that the publisher can legally disseminate the work. If they don't get such permission, they run the risk of getting sued by you for copyright infringement. For maybe a quarter of my publications, there was no proper copyright document signed (all of this is older, and via small esp. non-profit publishing venues).

That leaves the publisher in a precarious state, although even lacking a document, there is probably sufficient evidence that you gave permission that they are not in trouble for what they did. You would need to hire an attorney to give you advice on whether, given the facts, the Italian courts would say that you have executed an implicit transfer of copyright. That seems unlikely to me, but who knows? One possibility would be to execute a license that (retroactively) permits just the copying already done, that is a non-exclusive license, so that you could distribute the works thorough another venue.

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