Header Illustration
Usage Rights

Illustrations and designs are protected by the german Act on Copyright and Related Rights (§ 2 UrhG), which means only the creator itself is allowed to use them. The copyright isn’t transferable in Germany, but creators can grant usage rights. Usage rights allow creators to grant others the ability to use their work.

The german Act on Copyright and Related Rights specifies that a creator is owed remuneration (§ 32 UrhG). This is why a quote always consists of the costs of the creation plus usage rights.

Imagine it like buying a train ticket - just because you bought one, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with the train itself. You’ve earned the right to use the train to travel until you reach the defined destination. Usage rights work about the same.

Why usage rights?

Usage rights can be granted in various forms, which means for example, you could also buy the rights to using the train however you please. A simple train ticket would be a lot cheaper than that, because you use the train once for a limited time. Being in charge of the whole train would open a lot of possibilities, like selling your own tickets - obviously, this has to be priced a lot higher.

This is the way in which the creative work differs from a baker baking a bread, he can’t duplicate his bread and sell it again. Once its eaten, it’s gone. This is why bakers don’t need usage rights but creators do.

Creations like illustrations can be copied unlimited numbers of times for every task imaginable. This is why usage rights are an important part of creative work.

What kind of usage rights can be granted?

Non-exclusive or exclusive rights

Does your work need exclusive rights? It’s one or the other - or the option to get exclusive rights first followed by non-exclusive.

  • Non-exclusive: The creation can be used by the user like defined in the contract. The creator can still grant other people rights to use it.
  • Exclusive: Only the user is eligible to use the work. Exclusive rights are usually limited to a period of time, e.g. 1 year.


Usually the work is licensed for a certain region, for example Europe, USA or worldwide. Think about in which countries you need to use the work.


Specifies how long the work can be used. It’s possible to alternate the rights between different time periods, e.g. exclusive rights for one year, followed by a non-exclusive one for 3 years.


Rights of use are linked to types of media. This can be a single medium (magazine, flyer) several (website and magazine) or simply all known and unknown media. Usage rights are usually also granted for certain volumes.

Open questions?

Ideally, you’d think about what usage rights you need before the first call. However, If you happen to be unsure, I will do my best to help and present quotes with different usage rights options for you to choose. I’m looking forward to collaborate!