Book cover, licence, and legal advice?


christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#1
Hey guys, I literally just made an account so this may be in the wrong place, or not allowed entirely. I would love to get some input on a situation I'm dealing with right now, from anyone who's dealt with bad clients. This is going to be a long one, so buckle up. TLDR; Client had a refund, took my work and altered it, said another designer made it, refuses to give me credit.

The situation is this:
I am primarily a book cover designer. I found a client, contracts were signed, and then contracts were broken. I designed 45 total book cover variations for said clients book. I purchased stock, I purchased fonts, I used elements in Photoshop that I made and sell. This client spread around on Facebook that my cover was awful, shoddy, and unusable. I saw this, and confronted the client and told her that after all the work, time, and money I put in, I quit. I gave her a 50% refund and washed my hands of her. The cover, however, I was quite proud of. It's sat on my harddrive as I'm at a loss for what to do.
A few weeks after we part ways, she posts the cover on her Facebook page, saying her book was going to be released in a month. I ignore it, and don't care that she used the cover she didn't pay for. Then I see that there has been a slight alteration to the design, an alteration that is so minor, I didn't even see it initially. She'd hired another designer to add to the design, and he put something in the top right corner that smudged some of the title font, and she said that he made the cover, and that he's a great designer. I commented, asking for her to change the attribution as he didn't design it. The other designer commented saying he didn't make it, and I emailed him to chat about what he did -- he had no idea that she had taken my design, hired him to change it without permission, and that it was me who worked on it. She's outright refusing to change the comment she made about him making it as "he finished the job, didn't", despite there being only a minor change. She has since used the cover on her paperback editions without any changes, and the other designer is still credited.

I've asked several business owners what to do in this situation. Some are saying I should sue, others are saying to serve a DMCA takedown notice. Others are telling me to report her book to Amazon for copyright infringement. I don't know anything about the legality of this, she paid me for three bundled services at a £400 discount (I needed the cash to make rent, I didn't care if I was undercharging by £400), and I refunded her half, after I had completed all three services and she told me they were awful and she couldn't use my work. Either way, I'm angry about the whole "he made it, not you" debacle. What can I do? Legally? Both myself and the client are in the UK if it helps. I had someone inform me that she's paid for my time, not the work, and that I am the copyright holder... but I really don't know.
 
fisicx

fisicx

Active Member
#2
It’s really simple. You are the copyright holder. She has used your work without permission and you have every right to ask for compensation. Note that even if you had given permission you would still be the copyright holder.

Write to the publisher. Send them a copy of the email with the attachment to show when you sent the original illustration. Also take a screenshot of the facebook page where she claimed you work was unusable.

Do not let her get away with this.
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#3
It's her own publishing house, as she is self-published (hence why she hired me to do edits, cover, and interior design). Thanks for the input. So, I do have a leg to stand on if she refuses to compensate or change the credit? I would prefer avoiding the legal route, as I hate confrontation. I drafted an email over and over again to send but never did. The other designer altered the file, do I still own it? I know that if I take an image from Google, put something on there, it's still not mine and I would be in a bit of bother, but do I own this cover?
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#4
I should also mention, both myself and the other designer have commented on her post saying he didn't make it, and we have both asked her to change the post. It's very obviously done, the only thing it says is "This cover was made by (designer), he is a fantastic designer blah blah blah hire him". I have seen his work. He is a good beginner, but cover design isn't his strong suit... but it IS my entire business, realistically -- why should my design be in HIS portfolio? I'm so confused. Sorry for ranting, I'm quite a timid person and want to ensure everything I do is right, and this can't backfire on me. Thank you again
 
Wardy

Wardy

Well-Known Member
#5
I'm not sure there's much you can do now you've accepted her money and sent her the final file. Once she broke the contract, you should never have passed on the
final files until she paid up. We've all been there, but just put it down to experience. You have some of the money and a nice image for your portfolio.
If she's self-publishing, no-one's going to see it anyway! You still own the copyright, so tell her you will use the same image again for another client (if possible).

You could always threaten to rip her up via social media and bad Amazon reviews etc. It's time to stop being timid, this is business and your livelihood. :)
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#7
I'm not sure there's much you can do now you've accepted her money and sent her the final file. Once she broke the contract, you should never have passed on the
final files until she paid up. We've all been there, but just put it down to experience. You have some of the money and a nice image for your portfolio.
If she's self-publishing, no-one's going to see it anyway! You still own the copyright, so tell her you will use the same image again for another client (if possible).

You could always threaten to rip her up via social media and bad Amazon reviews etc. It's time to stop being timid, this is business and your livelihood. :)
Thank you for the input! I delivered the files as she had paid. After paying, she slated me, and I refunded her 50%. Should I just leave it? I'm still miffed that her Facebook is promoting this other designer with my work, a minor issue, I know, but I would prefer it if potential clients didn't end up on HIS doorstep...
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#8
If you tell me what the book is I’ll give her a one star review.
Oh I've been tempted. I've been tempted to publically black list her in a cover designer group too. But I'm worried about it coming back on me, haha
 
Wardy

Wardy

Well-Known Member
#9
At least warn her that you will do it, and work with the other designer to tell her to remove their name. Otherwise, leave it and move on.
Next time, don't back down and give so much discount. Believe in yourself!
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#10
At least warn her that you will do it, and work with the other designer to tell her to remove their name. Otherwise, leave it and move on.
Next time, don't back down and give so much discount. Believe in yourself!
Thanks! I know, I just get scared of confrontation. I found myself nearly apologizing to someone when they asked me my prices last night! D'oh. Also, I creeped your website -- what wonderful art!
 
Wardy

Wardy

Well-Known Member
#11
Thanks for that. I know what you're saying re confrontation and pricing etc. I'm braver when I email someone after an initial conversation and being put on the spot etc.
It all comes with experience. She was probably like you once, but look at her now!

One carefully worded email should do it, ending with something like - "I wish you all the best when you publicise your lovely book - I hope you don't get
too many bad comments or reviews on social media etc." ;)
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#12
True, I'll draft an email, again, and see what happens. I spent days writing the last one, but chickened out and never sent it because I freaked out thinking it could come back to me negatively. Thanks for the help!
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I think you have two choices really.

You can put it down to experience, learn from it and move on or you can make things difficult for her by doing what's suggested above.

If she's selling on Amazon, contact them and tell them her book involves copyright infringement and they should drop it like a hot stone.
One of the main T&C'c on sites like that are to do with copyright.
 
fisicx

fisicx

Active Member
#16
True, I'll draft an email, again, and see what happens. I spent days writing the last one, but chickened out and never sent it because I freaked out thinking it could come back to me negatively. Thanks for the help!
Don't draft an email - go straight to the source and tell Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/report/infringement

Even if you passed over the source files, she still needs your permission to publish.
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#17
I think you have two choices really.

You can put it down to experience, learn from it and move on or you can make things difficult for her by doing what's suggested above.

If she's selling on Amazon, contact them and tell them her book involves copyright infringement and they should drop it like a hot stone.
One of the main T&C'c on sites like that are to do with copyright.
Thanks Scotty
 
christiana98

christiana98

New Member
#18
Don't draft an email - go straight to the source and tell Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/report/infringement

Even if you passed over the source files, she still needs your permission to publish.
Ah, I didn't know that. I never actually said she could use them. I said I'd send the rest of the files, but after I saw her slating my business, I said 'eff it' and never did. Not that she seemed to care. I'll be looking on that link in a mo, thanks again
 
fisicx

fisicx

Active Member
#19
All she paid for was your services which she then rejected. Unless you explicitly state she has permission to use the images then she don't have nuffin'.
 
scotty

scotty

Moderator
Staff member
#20
Have you signed over the rights or the usage of the design?

If not, then you still retain them even if she's paid you 50%.

Say if you agreed to design a logo for a client for say £400 and you get paid and the client gets a new logo.
Unless you sign over the full rights then technically, you still own it and you could ask for additional payment every time they use it for something different "usage".
 
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