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Author Topic: Copyright Infringement  (Read 2800 times)

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Offline Aaron

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Copyright Infringement
« on: November 28, 2009, 12:03:31 PM »
I know this has been covered with a couple different situations, but I am in the middle of it now.

I designed a mailer for a local company about 2 years ago. We worked together for about a year. I would update my mailer with new coupons and info and would do mailings through the printer I work for. But my design work was done at home through me, not work.

Well a little over a year ago, I did a revised mailer as requested and was never paid for it. Couldn't get ahold of the contact. Emailed, called, stopped by. Completely avoiding me. About 3 months after that I get a call from the owner and am told I will be paid as soon as they get some money. They were really hurting. Yeah, right. Well, these mailers are small time. I'm talking about pocket change for even a small size company. I see their work trucks doing jobs all over town in the mean time. Then the owner tells me as soon as he gets some work he will pay me.

Well I render their services and of course I have to pay right away.That ticks me off. I send a heated email to the owner and I low and behold I get a check in the mail.

It wasn't even the money. Like I said, it was chump change. It was the fact that I was being ignored and avoided.

Anyhoo, over the last year after we had parted ways, I start seeing my design popping up on billboards and on their trucks. I wince and move on. Well today I get a mailer in the mail that is EXACTLY what I had designed for them. I'm talking down to the T. If you held my design next to this guys you really couldn't see the different.

This has really pissed me off. I have bit my tongue as I see my design everywhere around town, but I'm really hacked off now. And what a snake designer to agree to copying my design so completely.

So the question, this falls under copyright infringement correct? My quotes for design work never state they will receive ownership of the files. As the creator, they are my property. Correct? They paid for a service.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 12:06:16 PM by Aaron »
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Offline frailer

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 03:49:52 PM »
I'd hardly even rate as a bush lawyer, Aaron, but my immediate thought was, "What arrangement did you have in writing?"...from the outset. Stuff like further usage for signage, etc...

I guess that's how some lawyers get paid, drawing up and overseeing contracts. Unless you had something that both parties had signed, I think you'd be struggling all the way. Is there a bog-standard, off-the-shelf contract that designers use, in your jurisdiction/state? That would be my starting point before you did anything else in the future..for anyone. Is there a designer, or small design company around you could quizz on what they use?

Doesn't always guarantee payment, of course. Sometimes that doesn't happen, even with contracts. Then it's 'see you in court' time.   :rolleyes:
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 03:52:57 PM by frailer »
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Offline Aaron

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2009, 09:05:49 AM »
Yeah, the quote form I created doesn't state who actually has ownership, but from what I've read, it seems the creator retains ownership unless otherwise written. But I do have a couple agency contacts that I'm going to run this scenario by them tomorrow.

I'm sure there is nothing I can do. Just hate being taken advantage of. Definitely will add something into my quote letters now.
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Offline frailer

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2009, 12:51:19 PM »
Running it past an agency sounds the go. At least you'll have something in place for next time.
It's just a starting point, no guarantee though, that everyone's fair and scrupulous.

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Offline mattbeals

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 04:18:12 PM »
Would be a tough sell. You did not specifically "convey" or license the art to them. But you also did NOT specifically do that either. Was the art ever copyrighted? If not, then it's not necessarily protected.

I worked with a designer who had a contract with his clients that licensed the "design" to the client for a specific project and he, the designer, retained ownership of the designs.  You have to be very specific when doing work like that.
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Offline frailer

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 07:44:34 PM »
Good points. Ownership vs. licensing. And once you start crossing the 't's and dotting the 'i's...you've got a multi-page document.
I guess that's why there are so many lawyers. Gotta be some pro-forma/standard contract starting point to cover 90% of your needs though, surely.    :undecided:

Personally, I've never created anything worth 'protecting'.     :laugh:      But if your 'friends' have (mis)used yours, sounds like it was...   :sad:
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 07:47:20 PM by frailer »
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Offline beermonster

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 06:02:34 AM »
it's a bad one to take on


there's "intellectual" rights, ownership, copyright etc


in essence if they hire you to do a job the artwork is theirs - we had similar issues when we lost a client and they wanted film returned - i argued it was ours as we'd done the hard work from one up files etc - turned out that since we were paid for "the job" then films were part of "the job" and were the clients' films - so it's the same principal here but with "digital" films as it were


unless specific details, as mentioned by matt and frailer, were agreed upfront then there will be a problem proving anything. no infringements have been made if no copyrights are in place, no theft of ownership if you've been paid for the job, and intellectual rights is a massive issue that could take months to decide in a court


ownership of the design....you were asked to do a design, you did and supplied it (i presume). therefore ownership would stand with the client not you - sorry


but i'm prolly wrong - check with a solicitor/lawyer
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Offline Aaron

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 07:36:18 AM »
Thanks for all the feedback fellas. I know it's a fuzzy area. I really should have had something in my quotes stating ownership. I guess it just pissed me off more than anything. Admin should have moved to the rants section.  :smiley:

But I never supplied any files to them. I submitted to the printer (which happened to be me) directly. Honestly I'm more pissed at the designer. I know we all "artistically borrow" from other designs, but come on! It was the exact same layout! I wonder how long he spend getting to match so exactly.

I'm still going to call a couple of my agency peeps. Just curious what they would say. I emailed my old client right after I got that mailer in the mail threatening legal action. Maybe I can just scare them a little.  :evil:
« Last Edit: November 30, 2009, 07:37:47 AM by Aaron »
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Offline Captain_Type

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2009, 01:20:22 PM »
/irony on
I know we all "artistically borrow" from other designs, but come on!

"You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King,"you and all your silly English K-nig-hts."
/irony off
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2009, 01:21:41 PM by Captain_Type »
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Offline Aaron

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2009, 01:29:38 PM »
Didn't you see the quotes!!  :tongue:
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Offline Aaron

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Re: Copyright Infringement
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2009, 01:44:11 PM »
There! I added credits...  :cool:
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