I know I should have sorted this out prior to having it done but it didn't cross my mind and I'm not sure what my legal rights are.
I approached a freelance artist to draw an image for my website, for some reason I can't find the original spec I sent him but it was along the lines of "A computer picture this size with every element in the picture also provided as a separate PNG [for use on my website]".
The work has been completed, we had a good relationship and I love the work!
Now however I'm confused about my rights with this work. I assumed that because I paid for it and it is original I can do whatever I want with it, is this assumption correct?
For example can I sell this artwork? Can I redistribute parts of it in commercial software? Do I own all rights to that work of art?
I will obviously contact him and make sure we are both on the same page but I just want to confirm my position here before I start redistributing it.
If there was no contract or transfer of ownership, it sounds like all rights to the image probably still belong to the artist according to this post http://www.fineartregistry.com/articles/hill_cindy/work_for_hire_08-22-2006.php However if the image is only used for the website it might be possible to claim that it was "specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work" in which a "collective work" is the website. I am not a lawyer though so do consult one before making actual decisions.
Really the best thing to do is to ask for specific (written) permission from the artist to either transfer to copyright or grant you (or your company) sole rights to use it in an way you choose.
If you have a good relationship with the artist like you say, the best thing to do is to keep that good relationship so there won't be a need to enforce it, but still get a signed contract to protect yourself just in case.