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Intellectual Property & my portfolio?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by bigdave, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Just wondered if anyone could perhaps guide me on this one.

    It was pointed out today that my contract of employment states that I may not copy any information held on the company database. It's been implied that this includes artwork which I have designed. In the next paragraph it says that I cannot remove any customer information from the premises apart from that which is to be published.

    In the past the question has been asked about adding work to portfolios and the answer was that all customer information would have to be removed first. That's not particularly practical as a poster isn't much of a poster with nowt on it!! So I have absolutely no idea where this leaves me!?

    Do I have a right to take copies of my designs?
  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I don't think that any such rights are enshrined but I'm guessing that the kind of stuff you're talking about would be public-facing and I've always found that people are fine (when asked) about allowing this kind of thing to be used for portfolio purposes.
  3. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    I've just found this article regarding copyright and artwork

    Even though it doesn't completely answer your question, it seems that your employers could have a case.

    It does seem very harsh for your employer to take such a stance. I can understand that they wouldn't want you to show work that hasn't been signed off or is still in development stage but I've never heard of having to remove the clients details from artwork before adding it to your portfolio.

    It would be interesting to hear if anyone knows the definitive legal answer to this?
  4. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    There isn't a huge amount of stuff I've actually taken and until now it hasnt bothered me as it'd normally only be viewd at interview or perhaps a sample sent when applying for a job. But I'm trying to build my freelance business which (obviously) requires an online portfolio for prospective clients to view and I could do without getting sacked before Ive got enough work to pay the bills.
  5. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    According to the article, it's quite clear that the 'work for hire' clause would apply: in short, if you've produced and been rewarded for it in employment, then it ain't yours. As I say though, I think people would struggle to raise legitimate (or at any rate 'reasonable') objections to your request where the materials in question aren't commercially sensitive (even less so if they're explicitly promotional).

    EDIT: One more thought if your company's being arsey - perhaps ask the customer direct?
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011
  6. garlex

    garlex Member

    I think you should also look at it from the company's viewpoint, especially if its in the contract. They supply all the equipment and software, the customer is probably sourced at a cost and they pay you a salary, I think it does make sense that the work you have done on their premises and within the working hours has to belong to the company unless you have a clause at the outset to the contrary.
  7. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    I can see your point but how is anyone ever supposed to build up a portfolio if everything belongs to the company you're working for?

    As long as you specify on each piece of work in your folio whether you created it on behalf of a design agency or it's a private client, then there shouldn't be any problem.

    One other thing, what happens to websites that get designed at Dave's company? The url is in the public domain - are you also not allowed to send prospective employers links to websites you've created?
  8. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I don't know how the kind of stuff they contain would actually stand up (or even what it is) but I am aware of companies having policies for creating links to their sites.

    Back to the point, though, just 'cos someone else retains ownership doesn't mean other people can't use it within certain limitations.
  9. garlex

    garlex Member

    The best advice is ensure you have an agreement at the outset. Depends on how the portfolio is presented, if its hard copy, fine, if its electronic, then maybe it could be low res. The thing to bear in mind is the company wants to benefit from its employees work which can take many forms. It can be licensed to other companies which can be quite lucrative so the company will naturally want to retain ownership.
  10. VeryMark

    VeryMark New Member

    If it is work that has been created as part of your contract of employment, it belongs to the company.

    There are then two issues if you wish to reproduce it.

    Firstly, under copyright, it has to fall within a permitted exception such as fair criticism or review.

    Secondly, under your employment, it depends what is your contract.

    My inclination would be to produce something your firm mightl be okay with such as a blog with great reviews of the published material you've produced for them and saying how brilliant they are (and maybe offer to extend it to everybody in the firm?) with a link back to them and see what they say?
  11. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    We have reached a fairly amicable agreement on this one now I think. They have agreed to me displaying the work as long as I change contact details of clients and display a disclaimer stating that this work was designed by myself as an employee of the company and they hold all copyright.
  12. VeryMark

    VeryMark New Member

    An amicable agreeement is always to be preferred!

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