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Ownership issue

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by emte98, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. emte98

    emte98 New Member

    Hi, I'm new here so please forgive my potential ignorance.

    I have been doing a little freelance work, something which came along, without knowing the ins and outs of freelancing itself.

    I was the sole designer for the first 2 issues of a magazine. I created the masthead, logo and the page layouts etc. I remain unpaid for the 2nd issue and upon contacting the 1 person publisher was told that I was too expensive and I would get a cheque for the outstanding amount when I sent them all the fonts, masthead, logo and InDesign master files.

    I challenged this as my understanding being freelance, the copyright is retained by the designer, but of course this may be different for magazine publishing.

    Can anyone advise please?
  2. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    I am almost 100% certain that copyright remains with you until you assign it to somebody else, take a read here...Designs and design rights

    "Typically the creator of the design owns any rights in it, except where the work was commissioned or created during the course of employment, in which case the rights belong to the employer or party that commissioned the work."
  3. emte98

    emte98 New Member

    Thanks for the link.

    I'm a little unsure of the term commission. I certainly wasn't an employee but am unsure of the exact definition of commission in the link.

    How do you see it?
  4. Pixels Ink

    Pixels Ink Member

    I'm pretty sure as a freelancer any work you create remains under your copyright until you produce a copyright release letter.

    I wouldn't send anything to the client until you have been paid, and even then, if they did not pay for the fonts I wouldn't send those even after payment.
  5. emte98

    emte98 New Member

    Thanks Pixels Ink, that's what I had understood copyright to be, however, I can see this turning messy. I think the publisher will use this as leverage ie. they won't send payment until I send the files.

    They claim they have had this situation before so know their rights but then state that every other designer that they have worked with has never had this "notion".

    Thank you for your help so far, anything else would be greatfully received!
  6. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    The problem is if one of you doesn't give then you are at a stale mate, surely you have a feel of what this person is like, are they likely not to pay once the files are handed over?

    If you don't hand them over then it doesn't look like you will get paid, maybe hand them over and see what happens, if he doesn't pay then you still own the copyright and could in theory sue him.

    Not sure what to suggest really, if he really needs those files then at some point he will just pay so just hold out, if they aren't important to him then unfortunately it seems that you will have to take a risk and see.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
  7. GibbW

    GibbW New Member

    This is a tricky one, fonts they will not own but there is always a bit of a grey area as to who owns what in design. I have been asked many a time to reproduce artwork from scratch when the client has fallen out with the designer. There are a few tricks you can use if you wanted to be cruel before sending the artwork i.e. converting to eps and outlining or using an expensive plugin etc.. not that I would do this myself :icon_sneaky:

    Keep us updated, I am interested to see how this turns out.

  8. emte98

    emte98 New Member

    Thank you Boss and GibbW.

    To put it bluntly, no, I don't trust the publisher. I would be staggered if I sent the files and then received a cheque.

    I've decided to go back to the initial situation, namely, the fact that I haven't been paid for work supplied. The ownership of files is a separate issue and shouldn't be relevant to the payment of completed work. They had ignored previous reminders about outstanding payments until I sent one threatening court action, which is how the files issue popped up.
    So I'll state all this and reitterate the pay in 7 days or court action.

    Once again, thanks for all your input.
  9. Pixels Ink

    Pixels Ink Member

    Hope it goes well for you :icon_thumbup:
  10. emte98

    emte98 New Member

    Hi again.

    As suspected, the publisher was completely unaware that the designs didn't belong to them. I explained the freelance vs employee copyright and license but was simply not believed. But as I'd said, files or not, the payment is outstaning and is a separate issue anyway.

    So, can anyone point me in the direction of a professional body that looks after the interests of designers or more generally perhaps, creators? I know of bodies for photographers, illustrators architects etc but not aware of graphic design.

    Thank you
  11. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

  12. lauralil

    lauralil Member

    try this, some good information there. I went to an intellectual rights seminar last week, really interesting stuff...particularly for digital work such as our line of work.

    The Open Rights Group

    good luck :)
  13. tbradley3003

    tbradley3003 New Member

    You can try Trading Standards in your area, log your claim and they'll investigate by contacting the publisher on your behalf. If they succeed you get your money if not you can take him to a small claims court but it might end up costing you more. This publisher does not strike me as very professional at all and looks like he's trying everything to avoid payment. You could always send him a press ready pdf with all the fonts embedded that he can print from but won't be able to pass the file on to another designer to do the next edition. You worked hard and deserve to be treated fairly so wish you the very best.

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