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Copyright - How to respond to "Why do you keep it?"

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by Squiddy, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    I had a client phone me up recently to question me about the copyright terms that I emailed to her. It basically stated that she had unlimited usage rights in perpetuity - bar making adaptations or altering the logo in any way.

    Apparently, her husband had told her that it's a bit dodgy for me to keep the copyright and she told me that she couldn't understand why I would keep the copyright. She also expressed concern about the possibility of ending up being sued.

    I have been reading up on this a little but when the direct question of "why" came up over the phone I was a little confused as to what I should reply with. I said that I wanted to maintain the legal ability to display the work in my portfolio which is why I don't automatically hand the copyright over but even to me this sounded a little hollow.

    Ultimately she offered up more money to buy the copyright but the conversation just felt a little awkward, had she questioned me further I don't think I'd have coped well.

    Is it just a case of, I designed it, I get the rights? (Not that that is a bad thing) How do you guys handle these situations?
  2. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    good answer here - basically it's about relative worth of the design and you could argue return work. You design a logo for use on 1 package say and it's worth £z but if it's used on 2 packages it's relative value is no longer z but z x 2 or even z^2 and as such the designer should get paid more for the design work etc. Obviously it depends on the brief and contract but ultimately we sign over rights to use our work in a defined way as set out in the contract that we agree at the beginning. If a design is used outside of the originally defined context then it would constitute breach of contract and require a new contract or outright purchase of the logo/design at increased cost to compensate the designer for lost earnings/worth.
  3. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    I'm well aware of copyright law, I was just trying to see it from the clients point of view and ultimately to ensure I can better answer such questions in the future. I'm sure more often than not they take the stance of something along the lines of "Well, I paid you to design this image for me, so surely I should own this image?" More as them expecting you to transfer the copyright as opposed to them assuming they had it from the beginning.

    I might not have worded it as well as I could have done. So what you're saying regarding using it on differing number of packages is that a logos worth is increased based on the number of times it's used? I don't know why - and don't think I'm trying to argue or anything, I'm just trying to clarify it to myself - I mean, if I designed a poster, I wouldn't charge someone more based on how many times they were going to print it or in how many different locations they planned to display them in.

    I get the feeling that I'm missing something from this puzzle :p

    One path I've been considering is simply that the copyright belongs to me as the creator - why should I give that to you for free? It kind of sounds like I'm charging them for the sake of it but then business isn't about giving away things for free.

    Maybe I'm thinking too much into this...? :S
  4. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    It's not really the easiest thing to put down in words.

    How can I put it another way.

    You design a poster with a single set of dates are involved, it's used for it's advertising. A second set of dates is required, they come back to you to get it altered so you charge a nominal fee for the alterations.

    Basically it all boils down to income, most graphic designers work relies on return business hence why we limit the use of designs by keeping the copyright and work files. This makes a client have to come back to either have the work done by us, pay for it's additional usage or fully buy us out so they can give the work to another designer to do the work. Basically the buy out is compensation for our loss of earnings from their repeat business.

    It's like with my work. I give them all the rendered files (ie video/pictures) they've asked for at the initial briefing in the formats of choice from the available options, they can do as they wish with these, and I don't claim the concept or any cad files they've sent me as my own. I do however claim any physical work I do using my own files, think me adding materials, lighting that sort of thing, as mine and will not supply them to the client unless I have a suitable financial gain for doing so.

    The reasons are simple I want them to come back to me to do additional renders so I can get paid for it. By not giving them the files it means they need to start over from scratch which would ultimately cost more than just getting me to do another render :)

    Yes this is probably harsh on the client but ultimately we're a business and we're in it to make money.
  5. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Ahh I see, yeah I can see exactly where you're coming from now.

    So, supposing I was one of your clients, and I had my visually impaired friend/neighbour/brothers uncles pet dogs best friends owner sign the contract for me and you'd completed the project (logo design).

    All of a sudden I read the copyright terms in the contract and I'm horrified to find that I don't actually own the copyright.

    So I phone you up... "Hey, Levi, why do I need to buy the copyright from you, what purpose does it serve you to hold on to the copyright for a logo for my own business, that you're never going to use?"

    Would you take the "Well, I have kept it and make it an option for you to purchase it because if you own the copyright then you're free to take it anywhere or make changes to it yourself - that means I lose business" stance or something similar? Or would you say something completely different?

    Sorry if it appears like I'm creating pointless hypothetical situations, I'm just trying to learn how to deal with such situations better, in case it happens again - I'm sure it will do at some point.

    I really appreciate the advice you're giving me here :)
  6. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    No I'd take the stance you should have read and signed the t&c's instead of letting the visually impaired friend/neighbour/brothers uncles pet dogs best friends owner sign the contract for you. It's all listed in there minus the cost obviously for the client to read.

    Due to my non disclosure policy I wouldn't discuss the matter in great detail anyways without permission as the contract is with the person who has 'signed' for it.

    In my case I'd basically explain that they're entitled to alter files supplied with the images/video's in any way they wish. I'd also say they're welcome to take the work to another designer to do any new work but explain that the new designer would have to start from scratch unless the client buys my original files for £x (x depends on the size of the project).

    It's a little bit different in the case of a logo in that they're usually supplied as a vector file and you normally define it's usage during the project but the principles are the same.
    If it was a 'limited use' logo contract (ie just a letterhead and business card) they you could go with the 'lower price due to limited use' where you then explain that the reason they got the low price was due to it only being used on 2 items, a 'special' offer so to speak, and if it was for more items it would have cost more etc.
  7. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Thanks for this mate, it's really helping me to understand.

    So in terms of the package, of a logo design for example, it is expected that more often than not the client will buy out the copyright of the final artwork (with the designer retaining the right to showcase) as opposed to them having a copyright license - unless it's an expensive project or they have a limited budget. In which case they may bring up the subject when the design brief is being discussed, but other than that it's fair to assume they will expect to be paying you to transfer the copyright?

    I hope that makes sense... I think I was struggling to understand because I was looking at it in the sense that the copyright is an additional commodity separate to the logo that they may or may not want to purchase, instead of seeing it as integral to the logo design service and that it's just part of the package that they will have to pay for.

    Does that sound.. about right? :)
  8. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    explain the options during the initial consultation stage and then let them pick.

    don't look at the final work as being what they're paying for. A client pays for our services plus what is agreed on in the brief, ie the final logo.

    At the end of the day these are just guidelines, every client is different. Some will require more 'help' while some will come in and basically start trying to tell you what you do.

    Like I said up top, the easiest way for someone who is unsure is to give them options, fully explained, and then let them pick what they want to pay for. It's not in your hands then :)
  9. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    I think this is the best way to proceed, and am quickly learning that this will apply to a lot more than just this situation in this type of work.

    I think being up front with your client about anything that could potentially affect the long term cost will save a hell of a lot of aggravation further down the line when you both thought you had every thing sorted out when.... really you didn't.

    Thanks Levi. :)
  10. Wardy

    Wardy Well-Known Member

    Just to reply to your original question, I would've said:

    As the creative originator, I keep the copyright (there's plenty of web articles to back this up) -
    "I own the RIGHTS to where it is COPIED" If I produce a logo for a website, and then they use said logo for an advertising campaign, they are making MORE financial gain from MY work. It's not just financial though - if I produce an illustration with my name attached to it, I have the rights to where it appears, it may turn up on a website or publication I don't approve of.
  11. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    So there's a definite need to consider the type of graphic work, in what ways it can be used and how it might affect you should it be used in an inappropriate way.

    I remember reading about a case study regarding the clothing line Levi having its products sold through Tesco stores by an international branch or something similar. They went to court in order to remove their products from Tesco as they didn't want their products to be associated with anything but up market - and that is something Tesco's is definitely not.(Think Walmart if you're American)

    Thanks for the advice Wardy :)

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