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Design Rights
does the client have rights to your work?

 11:44 am on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

A client of ours paid us to produce a design for them and print and reproduce the CD and packaging of this design. This client was very troublesome but since they came through one of our other clients, we put up with it all and charged them one third of the design fee (based on per hour work). Now the client has received all the goods, they want a copy of the images, no doubt to go to another company for larger orders.

Can we refuse their request? Surely, we have some rights to the work we produced. It was not part of the original agreement for us to hand anything over.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.



 11:50 am on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is that not going to be tied up in your contract.

They did not specify that that they wanted high res images so if they want that they will have to pay.

Either that or you could say we lost them due to disk error. :)

Not sure how legal the above are, only rought rough suggestions. Seek legal advice.


 1:36 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Sounds familiar, depending upon your agreement verbal/written, they should own all the rights, however, if there is no agreement and you did it on the cheap “charged them one third of the design fee”, I think you can argue the toss… Tell em you want the remaining 2 thirds of the fee and settle for less, it kinda win win then.



 1:53 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Unless you agreed to the contrary, they own them as a "commissioned work" (under UK law anyway).

The fact that you did it on the cheap makes no difference.

It all comes down to what you agreed, or specifically excluded from the agreement.



 1:59 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Best to let them have the final copy, but you don't have to give them all the progress. Give them the quark document and the images, but you don't have to give them layered psds or any vector work directly. You are better off giving them that stuff and making it a learning experience. Sounds like you don't really want them as a client anymore anyway. Try to just let it go and do damage control as far as not getting your name tarnished all over town.


 3:53 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting TJ

Is this what you were talking about?




 3:57 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

From your link:-

For freelance or commissioned work, copyright will usually belong to the author of the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, (i.e. in a contract for service).

Not sure if that is the current statute.

It depends on what was agreed between you, although it looks like the inverse is true contrary to my original post - so if it's not mentioned, then you own the copyright.

But clearly you had a contract of service, what did it provide for?



 4:11 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

The verbal agreement was for the design of the CD packaging and CD artwork and production of the CDs and packaging. The client received the goods and now, a week later wants the high resolution files. On one hand, I agree with korkus that causing conflict might lead to bad word of mouth. On the other hand, the client was so difficult and we were so accomodating that I feel we deserve to produce any further copies. I just can't decide what to do!


 4:19 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just can't decide what to do!

Generally honesty is the best policy. Can you just be straight with them and put it exactly like that? In other words:-

"Look guys, we did it at a really cheap price on the assumption we'd get the return production business. We're happy to give you the high res originals, but to be fair to ourselves we should really charge something to make the fee a little more realistic".

I'm sure you can do better than that, but you get the gist.

If I were them I would think that perfectly fair.

Then again, if you're not talking about very much money, then it could be seen as a little petty.



 11:09 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

Don't sweat anything, it is a very simple matter with simple options.

1. They did not agree upon high resolution in the beginning. They called for "design of the CD packaging and CD artwork and production of the CDs and packaging." You gave them what they paid for, period. Anything further is grounds for a new contract for new demands.

2. You can demand royalties through a royalty contract to where you get a portion of the money whether you reprint or someone else does.. because it remains to be YOUR work. You hold all rights to the artwork unless you SPECIFICALLY stated in the contract that you forfeited those rights. So this method of royalties can compensate for them not staying with you in the first place, if they decline to stay with you. If you choose this path, you need a lawyer (pretty cheap for this need!).

You have to make the decision whether you want to demand producing further work, since a) it was your work. b) you offered them a cheap price in the beginning.

In my opinion: never let anyone toss you by going to other production people with YOUR OWN work. That's like a slap in the face. They'll prolly end up getting it produced in Taiwan for all you know.


[edited by: Travoli at 2:27 pm (utc) on Nov. 3, 2003]


 11:13 pm on Oct 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

So you can give them three options:

1. I will be the only one producing your products as long as you decide to keep my design.

2. If you want to go to another company with my artwork, I will write up a Royalties Contract, in which a portion of profits comes back to me, for my sacrifice, since I did not originally sacrifice rights to my design.

3. @$%# off. :)

Don't let them have an inch, or they'll take advantage of your generous services. Where would they be without your design?



 12:30 am on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

thanks for the advice everyone.
i am considering letting the client have the files but placing a copyright symbol etc in a place that it can't be easily removed.


 12:59 am on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

You mean like a watermark, or what?



 2:18 pm on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)



 9:15 pm on Nov 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

Do you have a contract with the copyright spelt out?

In Australia the copyright is with the author of the work. You can then "assign" it to others. How you negotiate the assignment is up to you - if for free, for a fee, limited assignment etc.

Perhaps you can say something along the lines of "generally we assign you to use the work but we don't hand over the original files, however if you really want them we're happy to negotiate a fee for this assignment". Win win but you're not being taken advantage of.

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