List friends,

I'm looking for some thoughts on how to construct and manage a scientific illustration contract for work that will become part of an ongoing database. The work is being commissioned by a lab (they have a limited budget for the art through a grant) and the researchers will want to use the art for their own research and publishing needs, plus, all work (dozens of line drawings) will ALSO be entered into an online database and potentially utilized (for research, education, and publishing purposes) by anyone in the field, indefinitely.

The amount of money available at this time will, by standard and fair (and MODEST) illustration terms, only cover first reproduction rights (plus research uses), but of course the client is asking that all art be available for any and all uses, in perpetuity. There is no immediate need to publish any of it, but there will be, and it will hopefully be a great resource for scientists in the future.

Does anyone have any experience with this type of project? Ideally, I would maintain copyright and could be paid (even just a minimal publishing fee) anytime one of the illustrations was used in a journal or other print piece. However, if the art is available on a client website, which is what is being asked, I would have an impossible time managing that... Would it be fair to set up a small database of my own, linked to the client database, specifically for selling use of the high-res art? In theory, I like the concept of a free artwork database - in the name of science - as much as anyone else, but if the work really does have potential to be hugely valuable for years to come, I don't see why I shouldn't be reasonably compensated with each use...

Many thanks for any thoughts!

Natalya Zahn
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