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I have an artist working on some things for me and I've just found out that they are 15.

In the UK, can a 15 year old legally sign over copyright to another person?

The assumptions made by me are 1. A minor can hold copyright 2. A minor cannot enter a legally binding contract.

2

A minor can own property including copyright.

A minor can also enter into contacts that are genuinely in their interest - note that this is an additional protection not afforded to adults. A minor needs the permission of their legal guardian to enter a contract and while this can be implicit in your circumstances it would be wise to make it explicit.

Notwithstanding, a minor may revoke a contract (if possible - they can't if they have drunk the milkshake, for example) while they remain a minor and for a reasonable time after they attain their majority. If they do this you would lose the copyright and they would have to refund your money. This is just a risk you will have to bear and factor into what you are willing to pay.

As an aside, there are three "properties" your contract needs to deal with: any physical artifacts (like a painting), the copyright and the moral copyright.

  • 1
    If the minor's parent or guardian was a party to the contract, could they make it irrevocable? – Nate Eldredge Oct 7 '16 at 13:13
  • @NateEldredge only while the minor remained a minor. – Dale M Oct 7 '16 at 21:33
  • There's actually UK jurisprudence that such copyrights cannot be revoked. – MSalters Oct 7 '16 at 23:12
  • "a minor may revoke a contract (if possible - they can't if they have drunk the milkshake, for example)" couldn't you just include a milkshake in any contract with a minor than, to make it irreversible? – PyRulez Oct 11 '16 at 13:12
  • @PyRulez that would be in the minor's interest? – Dale M Oct 11 '16 at 19:17
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Yes, see Chaplin v Leslie Frewin publisher Ltd (1966). Chaplin entered, then failed to revoke a contract for the transfer of copyright.

This falls under a more general exception about the provision of services when aligned with the benefits of the minor.

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