I am thinking of hiring an overseas artist from Upwork to do the drawings for me.

Just wondering if there any legal issues in me doing this and using the artwork in YouTube videos that may generate some money for me. The artwork could be cartoons characters, drawings of animals or logos that maybe hand-drawn or made by computer software (Photoshop). I am based in Australia and the artists will most likely be from Asia.

I will be obviously paying for the work they complete but do I need to get written permission from the artist before he/she has created the artwork and inform them that I am using this for commercial purposes and that I will/may make money from the drawings they create for me?

In short, what I don't want to happen is later down the track if I start making money from the videos that include these drawing, that I will get sued from the artist!!

What do I need to do to ensure this doesn't happen?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


2 Answers 2


You need a written contract

Lawyers draft them. You need a contact lawyer versed in Australian commercial and copyright law and the law of the country of the other party.

  • How would this work in practice, for instance, for cheap contracts (say, $5 fixed price)? Wouldn't Upwork have standard T&Cs ensuring clients get full IP rights upon paying the freelancer? Otherwise, wouldn't many (most?) clients be on shaky legal ground? Dec 9, 2023 at 21:32
  • @schrödingcöder if you pay the same for your art as you do for a Coke, what do you expect?
    – Dale M
    Dec 10, 2023 at 10:27
  • A lot of artwork takes a fraction of time and expense to produce vs the use of a lawyer. Legal involvement would make this work infeasible. I’m wondering whether Upwork standard T&C suffice in many such cases. Dec 10, 2023 at 11:03
  • @schrödingcöder yes, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that quality costs money.
    – Dale M
    Dec 10, 2023 at 11:21
  • Completely agree! So Upwork hired top lawyers so that the cost of whose quality work is spread over many users: both freelancers and clients. Otherwise perhaps 80% of projects on the platform would simply be not feasible economically. Dec 10, 2023 at 11:53

Contract Required

As the answer by Dale M says, you do indeed need a written contract. The contract should specify what rights you are buying, and what you will pay for them, and when.

The contract should be clear, and understood by all parties, if possible.

In some jurisdictions a contract transferring a copyright must be in writing to be legal. In any case, a contract involving long-term rights and possibly significant sums of money surely ought to be in writing, for the protection of all parties and the avoidance of disputes over what was agreed to.

What rights?

Are you to own the copyright, or get a license to use the work. If a license, will it be exclusive? Will it be world-wide, or limited to a particular geographic area? Will i8t be permanent, or for a limited term? Will you have the right to create modified versions of the art?

How much pay?

How much will be paid for these rights, and on what basis? Will it be a fixed fee, or an hourly charge, or on some sort of royalty basis, whether on a per copy basis, or a percentage of the receipts, or of the profits?

When paid?

Will payments be made on signing the contract, o0n approval of the design, on delivery of the final work, or at soem other time? Or perhaps payment will be in stages as the work progresses?

Due Date

When must the art be delivered? What happens if it is late?


Will you have the right to approve or reject the work? If so, at what stage? What happens if you reject it? Must the artist try again, or is the contract canceled? How much if anything do you owe for rejected work?

How to obtain the contract

You could hire a lawyer to erite such a contract. But this is a rather commo9n sort of transaction. There may well be template contracts available, or software that drafts a contract from template sections based on choices made by the user. I am pretty sure that such exist for the US market, but I don't know about the Australian market. Such model contracts are often thoroughly reviewed, and may be as good as or better than an individually drafted agreement would be. But that depends on the quality of the source. Nothing stops a careless person from marketing poorly drafted contract templates, but then nothing stops an incompetent or lazy lawyer from practicing, either -- not right away at least.

You will need to choose your lawyer or source carefully.

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