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Copyright in graphic design, and what the clients actually pays for... HELP!

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by leepaulvickersdesign, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. I'm needing a bit of a sanity check with copyright as a graphic designer. Hopefully I understand this properly!

    I have been in talks with a potential new client who needs some initial design work (logo, basic branding, stationery etc) which could lead onto a nice big longterm project. The discussion went really well and we have built up a good rapport with eachother.

    We talked about the subject of copyright. I have always considered the creator of works to hold the copyright over any work automatically, giving the client the choice to purchase the copyright for an additional fee on top of the original agreed design fee, releasing me from any connection with the work. The client then fully owns the design to do as he/she wishes. The potential client is a bit concerned by this in case I hold any power over him in the future.

    As such I have a section in my T&Cs to this effect:

    3 Copyright

    3.1 - The client is liable for any copyright breaches on any content provided by the client to Vickers Creative.

    3.2 - All content that is creation of Vickers Creative (design work including words, pictures, ideas, visuals and illustrations) is property of Vickers Creative, subsequently Vickers Creative retains the right to publish such design as his own, unless specifically released in writing and after all costs have been settled.

    3.3 - Any design work that is subsequently used after termination of the contract is a breach of copyright, for which the client will be held liable.

    3.4 - The client is not permitted to resell or make profit from selling design work created by Vickers Creative. (If you wish to resell work, please ask for a "Resellers Contract". Please note this will affect the quote.)

    3.5 - Vickers Creative retains no rights to any concepts or content provided by the client, subsequently Vickers Creative does not retain the right to re-create, resell or distribute any business concepts, text content or images provided by the client.

    3.6 - Any designs not used as a final solution in fulfilling the original brief remain the property of Vickers Creative, unless agreed in writing that this arrangement has been changed.

    Can anyone see any problems with this? The simple solution is that I charge him extra to cover the copyright - the downside then is that I can't showcase the work in portfolio as my own.

    Is there a middle-ground?
  2. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    It seems like a case of finding out what it is exactly they are worried about and adding in a clause to rectify any concern over said issue - which you seem to have done. I assume they have told you in more detail what "hold any power" refers to specifically - or you know exactly what they are talking about.

    I would assume they want something non-specific to cover them as they may not know what the copyright holder is capable of doing within the confines of the above contract, so just want assurance that you aren't going to screw them over at some point in the future. Not that you would but there are arse holes out there and people can't predict the future actions of any single person that they only (I assume) know in a business sense.

    I can't see any problems with what you've written but you may want to consider simplifying it a little - I don't know the company in mention is large enough to have in-house lawyers or people competent at reading contracts but for someone with not much of an idea it would seem a little confusing.

    Also in regards to copyright transfer, would it not be possible to state under the terms of the transfer that you retain the license to exhibit the work via a portfolio or under the title of previous works in its final, agreed upon form but in no way shall the logo be displayed in any other form.

    You may want to play around with that but surely it's not out of the realm of possibility. Obviously you'd want to discuss that idea with them beforehand.
  3. Russell

    Russell Member

    Copyright is a tricky issue but I think you're confused with the ownership of copyright and being able showcase any work you produce for them. These are really two separate things. If you transfer copyright to your client this does't automatically mean you are not able to add the piece to your online folio. In my terms and conditions copyright on all I produce is mine until fees are paid and then the copyright is transferred to the client. This only applies to the final solution, not prep work, and only for the purpose the artwork was originally intended for.

    So if you produce a brochure for them and they want to use elements the design in a separate advert/ flyer then they need to come to you to do it or pay you for release of the source files. The exception to this is logos as you can't really say every time they want to use their logo on something it needs to be run by you.

    In a separate point in my T&Cs I state that I reserve the right showcase any work I produce (and that the client will provide samples of any work they get printed). Also it is the clients responsibility to inform myself if they need any work to remain private/ undisclosed until a certain date (if it's a new product or something they don't want public till launch date).

    Most clients I have come across have no issue with me adding the work I do to my portfolio, those that do need to provide you with a Non Disclosure agreement and you should prob adjust your fees accordingly. As long as your clear from the outset this shouldn't give you any problems.
  4. Thanks, that's cleared things a little.

    However, he assumed the copyright of a logo design would transfer to him once the final payment had been made. I understand though I could transfer copyright to the client and still retain a right to showcase the work in the future for my own benefit.

    But what do others do when designing a logo, for example, and the project is closed and the client hasn't asked for copyright to be transferred to them. If they started unknowingly referring to their new logo as © "Company Name" would you approach them and raise this issue?
  5. Russell

    Russell Member

    Sorry I really don't understand the issue, I would just ask/ put in your T&Cs that you can use the logo in your folio, regardless of the copyright ownership. If they pay you and you can use the logo in your folio I personally would't give a monkeys whether they refer to the logo as © Company Name or not.
  6. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Got to be honest I'm not really that heavily involved with logo's but as far as I understand it when dealing with logo's it's a case of (in it's simplest form):

    We keep logo copyright to the work (ie files etc) but give permission for logo (as supplied) to be used in x circumstances (ie letter head, business card etc). This would be to prevent changes etc without remuneration and would all be agreed on at the start.

    Client then has the right to purchase full copyright and work files from us for £x so they can do what they like etc.

    As to the © "Company Name" I wouldn't worry too much over that personally unless it is used on more than the agreed formats.

    If you take it into my main work which is cad based:

    I keep data files unless part of job requirement and all rights to them, they will not be used for any other client due to my non disclosure policy (basically self imposed nda), the client can use any rendered images/video's as they see fit. If they want to change things on the images supplied then that's on their head so to speak and I'm not responsible if it degrades my part of the work.
  7. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    I think he means if they haven't been given the copyright ownership. So the copyright still belongs to Vickers Creative, but the client assumed it transferred when he paid for the finished project - which it didn't in this case. Is that more or less the situation?

    I suppose it's either one of those what's it worth or on principle matters. Personally, if it was a relatively low income business/small client then as long as I'd been paid the money and can use the work in my portfolio without them kicking up a fuss then I'd just leave it.

    If on the other hand it's a big company and they're making such assumptions, no I would chase it up and inform them of what they're doing and discuss the buyout of the copyright ownership.
  8. aibrean

    aibrean Member

    I ALWAYS give copyright for branding work. I include the higher fees as part of it. The client really needs to own their brand fully. My contract states that they don't own copyright to concept (anything not final art) and I always have the right to display and promote.
  9. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit too pedantic! What you've said seems fair to me.

    That exactly as I thought.


    Thanks aibrean, I'll maybe approach the is project this way. This is the first client who has really been bothered with the copyright issue. I understand his concerns, if he has had problems in the past, and this solution would be the most straightforward, right from the start.

    Also, thanks to everyone for helping to clean this up. I'll use your tips to amend my T&Cs to make it clearer in future.

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