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can anyone help please with copyright issues?

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Stephen Ingham

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:13 pm

can anyone help please with copyright issues?

Hi all, a quick question for anyone in the know...

we have a customer that has approached us to do some signs on his new building, when we went to assess and price the job up he presented us with some printed sheets that another sign company had supplied him with and it has their name on and a note saying that copyright belongs to them.

The customer has insisted that that is exactly how he wants it, with no changes, if we or another company were to recreate this design who would be responsible as far as the copyright goes, the customer or us?

any help or advice is appreciated

cheers
stephen
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DaneRead

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:48 pm

sorry to say this
i now it is very hard to do.

OPTION 1
but i had a customer the other day bring in designs that another sign company did. i said to them that if you are prepared to bring me a design that another company has done so i can do a second quote or do the job cheaper then i would rather not get involved. (this depends on how big the job is and how valuable the customer is)
It is very hard to do but sometimes the best thing for the industry.

OPTION2
If there is not copyright on it then you could take the tough luck attitude.
I dont know how copyrights work in the UK but more than likely you have to register the design. often guys just put it there but really they have no protection.

OPTION 3
Im sure you would not like the same happening to you.
Maybe the best thing to do is tell the customer that if he want you to do the job then you must contact the sign company and explain that another company has been chosen but you will need to use the same layout do they have a problem with it or can you pay for the design time.
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Andy Gorman

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:07 pm

I don't think registration is required in this country for copyright to exist.

How would you feel if it was your design being given away to another signmaker? I know what I would do if it happened to me.
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Steve Underhill

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:11 pm

Copyright instantly belongs to the designer, no registration needed.
If you created it you own the copyright basically.
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Phill Fenton

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:16 pm

No question about it - it would be unethical to knowingly copy someone else's design.

Copyright automatically exists for the person that created any original piece. They don't even have to post a copyright notice.

Explain to your customer that the other sign company has the copyright and as such you cannot re-produce this without their permission.

Why is he coming to you anyway if he's happy with their design? He obviously is hoping you will offer a lower quote to do the same thing.
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Lee Ballard

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 5:18 pm

I had a customer the other week present me with a van's artwork with the other sign companies details on. I mentioned the copyright issue to him and he just said he didn't care.

I therefore said if he isn't attached to the design (which frankly was naff anyway) then I'll design a new van livery from scratch. I did, he preferred mine anyway so thats what we went with.
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Stephen Ingham

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Post Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:43 pm

hi all, thanks for all the replies..

firstly i agree that it is unethical to copy someone elses design and i refuse to do so, i know how it feels to have someone else reproduce my work...

one of my concerns is if i had sat down with the customer and my laptop and created "a design" with him and it turned out to be exactly the same as the one done by the other sign company, then i get the job and produce the work, the other company sees that the signs have been made and they look surprisingly like the ones they designed, who would then be liable for copying??

cheers
stephen
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:10 am

I wouldn't think we as designers are responsible for infringing trademarks or copyrights if we are directed to do a design by a customer.

But by him providing you the design already and you already knew or ought to know you were copying someone else's work and you would be in a pickle.

Just ask your client to produce a copyright release from the other company and you'll recreate it. Otherwise you can't do it.
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Bill McMurtry

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:05 am

If a potential client is already ripping off one of your peers, then he will rip you off too.

You should let the business he's ripping off know what he's up to so they can take appropriate action. I'd be telling him to f-off and don't come back! :oops:

I really hate these parasites :evil:
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:40 am

I agree to all that has been said and I also would not copy somebodies design......but........... If the customer has had previous vehicles / signs done and now wants you to do more with the same design it could be agreed that he has already paid for the design and anybody else is free to copy it under instruction from the customer as he now owns the design.

That is unless the copyright states the design belongs to the originator and has not been charged to the customer, as soon as you charge the customer for it they own it or have the rights to it.

I know that is not the case here but wanted to throw it in the discussion pot :wink:

Well that is how I see it anyway :roll:
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Stephen Ingham

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:41 am

Hi all, thanks for the replies.

I agree totally with everything said so far and have refused to carryout work in the past because the customer wants me to replicate a design someone else had done for them.

Therefore when i go back to see him today i will be informing him of the copyright issue and that although i would be able to come up with some suitable ideas myself, with his input, i will not be copying what the other company has already done for him.

cheers
stephen
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:43 am

Can someone clarify Warren's point? From my research say I create a design for an 8x4' panel which is to be displayed outside a shop.

From my understanding I as the designer own the design unless I sign a copyright release for the design even though the customer paid for me to do the design for the 8x4' panel.

I'm not a solicitor but my research led me to believe this. They are paying for the design for an intended use, just like we have to pay extra on istockphoto when we want to resell items etc with that artwork being included.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:56 am

Hi Jason

It might be different in the UK but in SA this is how we worked in the print industry. It is considered the same as if you went to a design agency and paid them to come up with a design for your business, you would not be expected to ask them for permission to use it every time you had a different job that needed to be done.

So as I mentioned, unless your T's & C's of your copyright mention something along these lines in specific then the customer has paid you to create a design for him and now owns that design. You will of course have to spend the time re-creating it from a picture or something unless the originator is willing to release his final artwork to you. The originator will normally own the electronic files created but the customer owns the design.

I would be interested to hear others opinions on this.

Cheers

Warren
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:06 am

Down here wedding photographers own the rights to the images even though you paid them to take the photos in the first place.

You have to pay to have them released to you so you can do whatever you want with them.

I can't see your train of thought working either.

If a customer wants me to create a sign and I use stock photography from istock I can't see how they now own that design which includes artwork which I don't own the rights too. I may have purchased it for their sign and I am within my rights for that. But them taking that design then using it elsewhere can be in breach of copyright.
Last edited by Jason Xuereb on Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Cheryl Smith

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:09 am

when you have spent ages coming up with a great design that the customer loves...and they go off to someone else because they think they can get it cheaper elsewhere...that really gets my goat...The other signwriter has not spent hours putting in design energy and basically just copies, which is easy enough. I have posted before on this very subject, and when I knew customer was going elsewhere because he mentioned it...I called the signwriter and told them what he was up to. Other signwriter said that he was a really bad payer anyway (DIDNT PAY in fact!) and what a blinkin nerve...we struck up a good relationship. We both know each others designs now.
Anyway, he phoned me last week to let me know that a customer of mine came in with a design of mine for a quote....he deliberately priced himself well out of the job so I got it....RESPECT...for my fellow signiee and I will do the same for his work.
Im with warren tho...if a design has been done for a customer already, and I was asked to do it again, Id ask as to why they are not using their signwriter again tho, as if they have been unhappy with service, quality etc...a good enough reason to step in.
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Bill McMurtry

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:15 am

Yes Warren, that's also my understanding of how it works. Although Jason does raise interesting points about stock photos.

Stephen, if you decide to sit down with this client and come up with something different for him, aren't you worried that he might take your design and shop it around your competitors as he has already done? Surely, based on this client's poor form to date, if you do decide to work with him then you'd ask for an up-front design fee before you put any of your own time into it. Even then, I wonder how long might string you out on the final job payment. Maybe I'm just a little cynical after having been burnt by these types of characters in the past :-?
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Cheryl Smith

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:20 am

Yeh Bill...id be suspicious too. Do you really want to be a pawn in the customers game.....nah.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:23 am

Hi Jason

Like I mentioned, the other sign writer would have to recreate the artwork, he too would have to re-purchase the istock picture otherwise would not be able to reproduce it, this now gives him the rights to use it.

SO if you design a logo for example for a company and then decide you don't want them to have rights to it you can basically hold them ransom to it and they cannot use their own brand that they paid you to design for them to promote or grow their business. I think you will find yourself coming up short in court, unless you register a design legally or trademark and you sell that design to somebody it now belongs to them to use freely.

If you do not charge for design then you would have to have a pretty tight clause in your T's & C's regarding ownership but I'm sure that would put many customers off and not even sure how possible that is, similar to restraint of trade clauses that does not allow you to leave and join an opposition company, it is very hard to win in court because how can they stop you from earning a living by doing what you are trained to do?

Like I said the laws might be different here but then how far in to the law does this actually fall?

Back in the print industry if a customer asked us to supply final artwork and we did not want to we would only return artwork supplied to us, what ever the customer originally gave us still belongs to them and is entitled to it back, the electronic files belonged to the originator because that his is tool to create the design but the actual design itself belongs to the customer, he is free to do with it what he wants but anybody else will have to put in all the same work to re-create it, the only thing he does not need is imagination or creativity because he is not designing but reproducing and that is what you paid the originator to do, create, so you own the creation/design.

Cheers

Warren
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Russell Spencer

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:35 am

Copyright always remains with the original creator, even if a charge is made, its the same with software and other such 'creative' activities. The payment area only allows the user to use design with the originators permission.
With regard to logo's, if someone wants to protect it then they have it registered as a trademark.
With regard to the problem in hand, why don't you put in a bit extra for the design and then once the job is done offer some money to the other company to cover their loss. Pick up the phone and speak to them, i'm sure were all a friendly bunch really.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:49 am

SO you are telling me that if you do a design for a customer and charge him you expect him to keep coming back to you every time he wants to use the logo, every time he wants to get business cards printed,letterheads, adverts etc etc etc, I don't think you have half a chance to do anything to any customer who uses a design he has paid for.

This is just my opinion and how I operate, right or wrong in anybodies eyes I feel that that is only fair. If somebody pays you to fix their TV you don't now own their TV do you, NO, you supplied a service and paid for it, the repairs and new parts belong to the owner of the TV. It's like a car, you pay for them to build the car, you are paying for the car, it belongs to you, the machinery and design belong to the manufacturer and even though you paid for the car which pays for the machines and designers you only own the car and can do what you want with it.

I repeat, if a customer asks you to do a design for him and he pays you to do it then that design belongs to him, otherwise what is he paying for?

I have had this same argument for 13 years in my old profession, nice to see it is a global issue :wink:

This is getting interesting :lol1:

Cheers

Warren
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 9:58 am

I'm not trying to say whats accepted or not accepted. We are talking about the law. Most of the time the law is not common sense nor is it logical.

If a customer paid me to do a design then I wouldn't want to keep charging them to use the design no matter what format they used it in.

But say someone comes to me and goes look I don't have a lot of money. Can you create a design for my 900mm by 600mm corflute sign and I'll get the corflute sign from you? Next the client takes the design and rolls out a national franchise, with all the associated materials using my design?

I've created the design based on the intended use. If they came to me and said I need a logo designed I want to use it on all my marketing materials then by doing it I'd be agreeing to design and let them use it for whatever they pleased.

I've had many a time when we started a customer say I need this printed. They get here and say can you whip something up? I haven't charged them for design only the production of producing the sign. Who owns the design then? Them or me?
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:11 am

I think the underlying thing is this.

Is the customer paying to USE the design or OWN the design.

Example I own a building supplies store.

Someone comes in buys all the timber from me. Goes can I USE your nail gun. Just because you give it to him doesn't mean he owns IT.

Now if someone comes in to buy a sign and wants to USE your design just because you let them doesn't mean they should OWN it even if they asked you to create it.
Last edited by Jason Xuereb on Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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R Ferguson

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:14 am

I deal with joe bloggs of the street and business customers, recently i contacted a local photographer about a request for a canvas print i had received.

The photographer said, as has been mentioned before, that he/she owns the copyright. But he said that if a business hires a photographer to take some publicity shots for example that the buisness owns the copyright to them.

I would contact the other signshop and see if you could purchase the design from them - if the customer has been difficult they might be pleased to get some money from the job and move on
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:16 am

I don't think a customer will always be able to predict all the instances he will need to use such logo but if you do not charge him for it and don't have some kind of legal clause to prevent him using it elsewhere I think it will be deemed that you gave him the design for free, if you don't charge him and don't tell him he cannot have the design how is that fair to the customer? You either have to get him to sign something because he can't afford to pay for the design saying you own the design or it will be deemed it was either included in the "hidden" costs or was designed for him for free, either way he has a right to use it. You cannot NOT charge for something so that you can remain the owner of it without telling the customer and having an agreement to substantiate it, he could say he paid cash for it and there is no record of it, that would not look good for you then?

What if a customer came to you and asked you to do a design for him, no signs or print just a design, he pays you and leaves, that design belongs to him and he can do what he wants with it, it makes no difference whether or not he got you to supply a corruflute A4 board or a £5000 fascia, if he bought the design from you it belongs to him.

All I'm saying is that we are paid to supply something, we cannot then expect to own it and dictate to the customer when and where he can use it.

Cheers

Warren
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:29 am

Jason Xuereb wrote:I think the underlying thing is this.

Is the customer paying to USE the design or OWN the design.

Example I own a building supplies store.

Someone comes in buys all the timber from me. Goes can I USE your nail gun. Just because you give it to him doesn't mean he owns IT.

Now if someone comes in to buy a sign and wants to USE your design just because you let them doesn't mean they should OWN it even if they asked you to create it.


No, he owns the wood because he bought it, the nail gun is your because he borrowed it and that was the agreement. If he said that he could not afford a nail gun and could you "give" him one then if you give it to him it is then his, possession is 9/10th of the law. If he paid you to build something with the timber then you are saying what you build belongs to you even though he paid for it, doesn't make much sence does it.

Maybe it is just terminology that is confusing then, own or borrow makes little difference really if there is no contract, I still stick with the fact that if he pays you to do a design for him then it belongs to him, otherwise what is he paying for?

Photography is a bit different because you cannot accurately reproduce a photograph as you can a piece of artwork. If you take the picture then the picture belongs to you, if you pay somebody else to take the picture for you and there is no contract then that picture is also yours. Photographers usually have a clause that state the pictures belong to them and you can buy as many as you want, if you agree to that contract then you are bound by it. Wedding photographers are a perfect example as most of them do it but it is for a financial thing and nothing else. When I got married our contract stated we would only get the negatives after our first order of re-prints (part of the contract was some prints). After the wedding we could not get the negatives so placed a small order and then he was bound to give us the negatives as that is what the contract stated, it did not say how large the order had to be only that we had to place a re-print order first.

We are going a bit off topic slightly now and should really only worry about our industry, I just can't see anybody doing well telling their customer that they cannot use the design they paid for, not sure you would see that customer again unless you were a world class designer.

Cheers

Warren
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:46 am

I agree with you Warren in terms of we wouldn't get work if we treated our clients like that. We operate the same way as you do.

It's an interesting topic and I don't think any of us are qualified to give the right answer. Maybe I will have to digg up my old law text books to find cases in favour or against each argument.
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:50 am

Read the last paragraph.

Reference Page: http://www.ajpark.com/library/2005/08/d ... tracts.php

Copyright Contortions

If the design agency contract does not refer to ownership, then the Copyright Act 1994 will determine who owns copyright in the advertising material produced. This may well lead to some unexpected and unsatisfactory results. The problem is that advertising material includes text, drawings, photos, scripts, film footage, and more. The Copyright Act sets out different rules for copyright ownership depending on what material has been produced, where it will be used and what arrangements have been made for payment.

The general rule is the author of the work is the owner of the copyright in that work. An exception to this is works created during employment belong to the employer. Normally, any copyright material produced by an agency’s creative team would belong to the agency. But, this rule does not apply where a person “commissions and pays or agrees to pay for” specific works. The specified works are photographs, computer programs, paintings, drawings, diagrams, maps, charts, plans, engravings, models, sculptures, films and sound recordings. Subject to any agreement to the contrary then, the person who commissions one of these works will be the owner of the copyright.

There are two reasons this is unsatisfactory from the agency’s view. Firstly, the law gives copyright ownership to the client if they commission the work - even if the client hasn’t actually paid for the work. The statute only requires the client to have agreed to pay. Secondly, the reputation of design teams is built on the quality of their work. But the agency has no way to control the final form of the work which will be released to the public. The client (the copyright owner), is free to make whatever changes it likes to the finished product without consulting the agency.

It is also relevant to note that this commissioning rule does not apply when the client who commissioned the work, wants to enforce copyright in many overseas countries. In Australia and England for example, the design company is considered the author of the work even if the client has commissioned the work and owns the copyright in New Zealand.
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Russell Spencer

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:54 am

the initial post was that someone had been asked to produce a sign from someone else' sketch. In 99% of these cases (and I have seen plenty) you can be pretty sure that no money has changed hands therefore the copyright ownership is automatically placed with the creator of the design.

If someone then goes on to pay for the sign and design with the copyright holder then it would come down to terms and conditions of sale about who owns it or has a right to use it.

Just as a point of interest if you 'buy' software you do not 'own' it. When you purchase it there will be something pointing to some extremely fine small print which says by paying a fee you are allowed to use it but the software content is still theirs and they can ask for it back at any time..!!
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:59 am

This is relevant to Australia and probably sums up what I was trying to say:

If I am paid to create a design, what rights does the client have?
As noted above, a freelance artist or designer is usually the first owner of copyright. Generally, the client will
have the right to use the design for the purpose for which it was commissioned. It is a good idea to have a
written agreement which sets out the client’s rights. For further information, see our information sheets Assigning
and licensing rights and Graphic designers.


Found in http://www.copyright.org.au/information ... q/G033.pdf
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:05 am

I think we are all in agreement then :wink:

With regards to software it does state that in the license so yes you are in effect not buying the software you are buying the right to use it under their conditions, fair enough.

BUT if you don't get any such contract with a client (in the sign industry) once he has paid for the design he can use it freely, SO, if you don't want your customers using your designs then you better contact your lawyer to get some iron clad papers drawn up :lol1:

If you are spending many hours doing brilliant designs then firstly you might be in the wrong industry or you need to protect your intellectual property.

I guarantee 99.9% of sign makers are not protected from this and would not stand much chance of winning a case where a customer uses your design he paid for elsewhere. I have a copyright notice on all my proofs stating any designs done by me remain mine and cannot be used without approval but that is just to try scare my customer into thinking they can't ethically take my design elsewhere, as for the un-ethical customers there's not much you can do :wink:

But it seems like we all agree... to a degree :wink:

cheers

Warren
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:08 am

Commissioned works
In general terms, if a graphic artist is commissioned to create an artistic work, the graphic artist will own
copyright, unless there is an agreement to the contrary. In these cases, the client will have the right (“licence”)
to use the work for the purposes for which it was commissioned.
However, it is important to have a clear agreement in place, stating exactly what rights each party will have,
even if that agreement merely reflects what you think might otherwise be the case under copyright law. For
example, if you are commissioned to create artwork for use on stationery or in a brochure, the agreement should
make clear whether or not the client is entitled to use that artwork for other purposes, such as on its website, in
television advertising or merchandising, and if so, whether or not any additional payment is to be made.
A written agreement can head off the misunderstandings and disagreements which can otherwise occur as to what
clients can do with graphic art they have commissioned. For example, many clients won’t understand that you
may have a sliding scale of fees for different uses, and may assume that paying someone for graphic art on a one
off brochure gives them world rights in the entire copyright. In some cases, such as where a logo is
commissioned, without an express agreement to the contrary, there may be strong grounds for suggesting that
the party commissioning the work may have the right to ask the graphic artist to transfer the copyright in the
work to them, as one of the implied terms or conditions of the commissioning agreement.
If you do agree to transfer copyright to the client, you should make sure that the agreement provides for any
rights you wish to retain, such as the right to use the work for the purposes of promoting your own services, and/or for any additional payments (for example, if profits are made from “downstream merchandising” sales of
the design work).
As noted above, it could be argued that any copyright in layouts done by a graphic artist may be a part of the
copyright in the client’s “published edition”, and not a copyright in any separate “artistic work”. For this reason,
it is especially important in these cases to have a written agreement setting out the rights of each party. Any
subsequent disputes can then be resolved by reference to the agreement.


Well here in Australia I am right. I as the designer own the copyright. The client has a license to use my artwork for the intended purpose. If the client wanted to own the artwork I would need to sign a copyright release.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:22 am

That's an interesting read and I see where it's coming from, however I do not see myself as a graphic designer and more of a sign maker who can supply a design service.

At the end of the day it comes down to the contract and who here has a contract written up for designs?

I suppose I may then be wrong in the eyes of the law but chose to not enforce it due to personal reasons. Not sure why somebody would want to get a sign or vehicle done knowing they will be limited to when and where they can use their branding, not sure if it would be good for our business and we sell signs etc and not designs, if I was a graphic designer then yes I would want to protect my investments and intellectual property as much as possible.

Maybe it's just that I don't see my design as being worth that much :oops:

Cheers

Warren
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:52 am

I think Warren because your given the logos and a lot of elements you don't see it as design. Were the same but sometimes while designing a sign we inadvertently design a logo as well.

In our profession we should value our design because in the end if the design isn't effective then the production, vinyl, materials, application etc won't be effective either.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:11 pm

I agree Jason, I just look at it as if the customer is paying me to do a design and a sign then both belong to him after he has paid for them. I believe that if he is happy with the design and sign he will come back to you, if he is not happy then he has the right to move on to somebody else and should not need my permission to use the logo/design he bought from me.

I know by law that sounds wrong and maybe I am too generous by doing so but don't think it would effect business too much because if he is not happy with me he is going to go else where no matter what, even if he has to change the design slightly to void my contract with him.

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John Childs

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:56 pm

I'm with you Warren.

If a customer pays me to design something, then he's bought my time and the end product is his.
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Hugh Potter

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:04 pm

hmmm, lot's of different views.

mine? if i'm reproducing similar work to what a customer already has, i generally add time in to cover any design time. redrawing etc.

however, if i design something from scratch, especially a logo, then it is made clear in the quote that they're paying for 'materials' which includes in-house time (cutting weeding etc), and 'on site' time, which includes an estimated time to do the job including travel, it also gives them the option of fitting themselves where they already have contractors on site.

it is made clear the design copyright is owned by my company, and that it has not been charged for, though for a fee which covers (my hourly rate) the design time, i will supply the artwork on disc, in a number of formats which will enable them to then use the logo's etc for stationary or other uses freely ...

i've probably only ever 'sold' copyright about 3 times, usually £50 as a nominal fee., only once had a customer challenge this, he didn't want to pay a nominal £50 fee for a disc full of my designs, as he thought they should be his by rights. I explained they weren't, and haven't seen him since. his loss as he'll pay more to have it done anyway.

right or wrong, it's how i work, the customer is paying me to produce a sign, so that is what i charge for, to supply artwork / copyright is extra.


like Jason said, if you supplied a sign for £100, and three months later saw that sign being used on a national franchise all across the country, would you sleep well? i wouldn't, i'd be too busy kicking myself. I know the truth is, that a company like that will have a design firm make a uniquie logo, but it could happen.

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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:05 pm

To put it in simple terms related to signage, I supplied artwork for an a-board having already done their fascia.
A month or so later I saw a new a-board outside with MY layout and colouring.
I contacted the customer and explained that my work was copyrighted and that as he had used it (albeit via someone else) he would have to pay for the design. He went spare and threw a right wobbly.
Upshot was I took him to Court and won my case.
So it cost him a design fee, an admin charge, the Court fee, plus time off work for him and his wife.
I showed the registrar a photo of the board and my artwork and he said the design had been clearly "lifted" from my artwork.
It was only a small amount in reality but I wanted a test case for anything larger which might crop up.
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Hugh Potter

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:15 pm

Peter Dee wrote:To put it in simple terms related to signage, I supplied artwork for an a-board having already done their fascia.
A month or so later I saw a new a-board outside with MY layout and colouring.
I contacted the customer and explained that my work was copyrighted and that as he had used it (albeit via someone else) he would have to pay for the design. He went spare and threw a right wobbly.
Upshot was I took him to Court and won my case.
So it cost him a design fee, an admin charge, the Court fee, plus time off work for him and his wife.
I showed the registrar a photo of the board and my artwork and he said the design had been clearly "lifted" from my artwork.
It was only a small amount in reality but I wanted a test case for anything larger which might crop up.


wish i'd done that with a chip shop in a local village, redesigned all the front of the shop to find a few weeks later that a local had done it, same font and everything, too lazy to even change that. i let it go in the end, just hope the person who obviously ripped off my work reads this... if it happens again i'll take it all the way.

slightly hypocritical, but, should i be asked to reproduce an old design, i always ask, and always ensure the customer signs the quote/acceptance form, which states that in the event of being asked to reproduce existing signage, that it will be the responsibility of the customer to ensure the proper copyrights have been sought. that said, i almost always change something significantly enough to make it a new design.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:20 pm

Peter, what did you tell the customer at the beginning when you did the design? Did he know it was copyrighted and could not use it or did he think it was OK because nothing was agreed. If nothing was agreed and he lost the case I think that is very wrong as he had paid you for a service to supply sign and artwork, he now owns it as far as I'm concerned and if it was me I would have burnt your house down for doing that to me :evil:

seriously though, I believe it all must come down to what is agreed up front, if you want to retain ownership of a design then make them very aware of it and what they are actually paying for and what they are entitled to.

Nobody can expect to secure a customer for life because they did a design for them because that is what you are saying, black mailing them in to using only you unless they buy the design off you again. You could then start to charge what ever you liked because they have to use you or lose the design.

With regards to doing a small job and then seeing tons of work done afterwards by somebody else, well that's just life, if you weren't good enough to keep your customer then it's your loss really, if a customer is happy with you then they will return, otherwise you might have to have a look at yourself and ask yourself why they went elsewhere, yes it is a horrible feeling but that's business and that's life.

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:35 pm

Ive just had a customer come to me with a van, (the company name is in the dreaded brush script) :rabble:
And his other text is just in normal arial bold or whatever, he wants me to replicate that onto another van, now surely that cant be a copyright issue if I just choose the same layout of his van?
there are no logos or designs just text so is this acceptable to copy?
Im not bothered because Im going to do it anyway as as far as I can see its a text layout ans he didnt design either arial or brush script.
However I think I may swing him onto another script font, one that's less common and ugly.
:lol1:
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:50 pm

Warren being an existing customer there was no specific mention of copyright other than the usual copyright notice which I put on all designs.
Now there are two ways he can go about this, 1/cut off the copyright notice, or 2/ give the design to a 3rd party and both customer and third party disregard the notice.
His defence was that he asked 2 sign companies at the same time for a design, and both came back with the same design.
Of course that was impossible to the degree of how exact the finished job was to my design.
He did just as so many scum customers do is just hawk around someone else's design thinking nothing would come of it, just to screw the price down.
He obviously had no loyalty and was penny pinching in the extreme.
I suppose it was the horrid character of the guy and his hurled abuse when I contacted him which prompted me to "not let him get away with it".
Added to which, it wasn't exactly a super complicated design, just a header and bulleted list but unique in it's layout and colour scheme.
As far as I am aware, any design marked as copyright remains so to the originator unless it is passed over following payment and release permission.
It is then down to determination of how close another design might be to your own as to whether that design was "stolen".
So my day in Court proved that copyright means what it says, even in simple cases.
The other thing it proved is that some customers are just born @$$holes.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 2:53 pm

Steve, a bit different really as you are copying a vehicle which the customer has already paid for design work etc.
You are not copying printed artwork which is copyrighted and not paid for.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:11 pm

Fair enough.
Was just wondering if anyone could try and have recourse for replicating a font layout on a vehicle, would be silly if they could I suppose.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:22 pm

Peter, then I agree with your actions. There is a massive gray area when it comes to this I think and I suppose it is doind to the relationship just as much as it is down to the "contact" when the job is done, there are always people trying to take the p1ss so we react accordingly.

I am a little more upfront and if I see an old customer who has had work done (weather copied or not) I will approach them and ask why they did not ask me and simply went elsewhere, they usually feel very embarressed although it has only happened to me one and he told me his daughter did it. The job was (oh i swore !) and he even said I can put my name on it and I said no thank you :lol1:
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:23 pm

i agree, text is just text, and if nothing special has been done to it, other than a layout, then there isn't really an issue, If, however, there are little custom bits added in, making the layout more than just a layout, ie, some though and design has gone into it, then its a 'design' and subject to copyright.

Warren,
I have done jobs for bigger companies, often smaller stuff. they often don't see a small company as being able to perform in the same way as a large one, last year i lost a tender to do 12 hi-top lwb sprinter vans over the course or 4-6 weeks, easy really, a day cutting / taping, a day fitting. woulda put alot of other work on hold a bit, but easily done, three days a week is all!

i found out from the person who works there, the person who put my name forward into the mix, that i was about best priced (only by about £30), they liked my layout idea, but ended up going with a bigger company, almost £300 a van more expensive, purely on the basis that this big company had premises to which the vans could be delivered, where-as i'd requested doing the vehicles in their their warehouse. figured it would save them money for one thing, but they were concerned about 'how professional' i was, by having no unit where i could take vans in!

so, it's quite possible to lose a big customer, through no real detrimental fault of your own, i did nothing wrong!

as i say, it is made pretty clear that the copyright to a design is held by me, and that it can be purchased for x amount whether they choose to use me to do the job or not. i don't see it as blackmail, many of my customers are small, most are loyal, and are more than happy to keep using me, those who choose not to for any reason, can purchase the artwork / copyright. i see no reason to let them take my time and what little talent i may have, and profit from it if they choose to go elsewhere.

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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:33 pm

That's my point Hugh, you feel that they should have given you the vans to do just because you did the design where they they customer who has paid and is paying for the work wanted somebody with a unit, you cannot dictate to them they can't do what they want to with their money and vans. If you want the jobs then get a unit, if you can't afford one then you will have to give up that work to those who have a unit.

I have potentially lost a contract to do up 100 vehicle wraps a year because I 1) work alone 2) don't have a unit, I could resolve both those problems but chose not to, I cannot force the customer to give me that work when he needs it done in a unit and done quicker than a one man band can do it, so therefor it's my loss.

I just don't believe you can expect a customer to give you work when you cannot supply the service they require ie: a unit. They might want a place to leave the van over night and don't want it parked outside your house, you cannot hold that against them. How many jobs have you gotten because you can do it cheaper because you don't have the overheads of a unit? It works both ways, also has nothing to do with copy write :wink:
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:42 pm

John Childs wrote:I'm with you Warren.

If a customer pays me to design something, then he's bought my time and the end product is his.


Surely he has paid for your time and receives a license to use the product of your effort. You still own the intellectual rights to the product and as such can control its use. Same as software?

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:54 pm

Warren Beard wrote:That's my point Hugh, you feel that they should have given you the vans to do just because you did the design where they they customer who has paid and is paying for the work wanted somebody with a unit, you cannot dictate to them they can't do what they want to with their money and vans. If you want the jobs then get a unit, if you can't afford one then you will have to give up that work to those who have a unit.

I have potentially lost a contract to do up 100 vehicle wraps a year because I 1) work alone 2) don't have a unit, I could resolve both those problems but chose not to, I cannot force the customer to give me that work when he needs it done in a unit and done quicker than a one man band can do it, so therefor it's my loss.

I just don't believe you can expect a customer to give you work when you cannot supply the service they require ie: a unit. They might want a place to leave the van over night and don't want it parked outside your house, you cannot hold that against them. How many jobs have you gotten because you can do it cheaper because you don't have the overheads of a unit? It works both ways, also has nothing to do with copy write :wink:


lol, they never used my design, they went with a similar one, i know it's nothing to do with copyright, it was simply to highlight a point. you said something along the lines of " what have you done wrong to lose a customer if they're going elsewhere for the wwork", i was mearly pointing out that you don't have to be bad at what you do, to lose a customer. i accept i didn't have a unit etc, and have no real issue with it, it was just raising one instance whereby you can lose a customer and do nothing wrong.

had i designed their logo / layout, and they then chose the other company, i would have specific grounds for recompense, in this instance they didn't. but there's nothing to stop a customer having you make a £100 sign with a logo you design, and then going on to use that logo to make another big sign company rich, using my artwork, just because they're better able to cope with the workload, if they want my design copyrights then they can purchase it at anytime, if they buy it at the start, it would be a whole lot cheaper than when they're a multi million £ company!

no easy answers to all this, no right or wrong way really!

tbh, principle and practice are two differing things, 99/100 i'll not ask or expect to charge for releasing the copyright/artwork, but will in instances of nightmare customers who keep changing their mind and who waste alot of time before getting the job done!
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 3:56 pm

Peter Mindham wrote:
John Childs wrote:I'm with you Warren.

If a customer pays me to design something, then he's bought my time and the end product is his.


Surely he has paid for your time and receives a license to use the product of your effort. You still own the intellectual rights to the product and as such can control its use. Same as software?

peter


that's just it for me Pete, they pay me to manufacture and/or fit the sign, not for the design time in most cases.

maybe i'm just doing it worng!
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:06 pm

This discussion seems to have become rather complicated. As I understand the law, if you design something you own the rights to the design. The customer has no right to reproduce it without your permission.

I don't often hold them to this - in fact I have supplied artwork on disk for stationery printing, but I would break kneecaps if any of my work was hawked around other signmakers looking for price comparisons.
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John Childs

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:38 pm

Peter Mindham wrote:
John Childs wrote:I'm with you Warren.

If a customer pays me to design something, then he's bought my time and the end product is his.


Surely he has paid for your time and receives a license to use the product of your effort. You still own the intellectual rights to the product and as such can control its use. Same as software?

I don't see it that way Peter.

I consider the whole concept of "licensing" to be a weasel way of trading. We are flogging our knowledge and expertise in just the same way as a carpenter, and I can't see that the fact that we are dealing in intellectual property, rather than physical goods, makes the slightest bit of difference.

Like I said, the customer has paid for my knowledge and expertise and therefore the end product is his. To do with as he will.

Buy a font. Should you pay every time you use it on a job? Because that's what we are saying if we think that one of our customers should pay every time he slaps his logo on something.

I consider a system whereby some designer thinks he has the right to a lifetime income, just because he did a couple of hours work for me once, to be a scam of the first order. The fact that Bill Gates and wedding photographers get away with it doesn't make it right.


The hawking round of artwork is a bit of a red herring here. If you've done a layout and let the customer take it away without paying for your time, then that's a whole different discussion.
Last edited by John Childs on Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:40 pm

Nobody is wrong here in my opinion, but you have to have the contact in place to begin with, you cannot expect to break kneecaps if the customer did not know the artwork he paid for cannot be used anywhere else. If you trade like this I think it is deceitful and you are looking to sue somebody as soon as they use it elsewhere.

JMHO

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:43 pm

Peter Dee wrote:Steve, a bit different really as you are copying a vehicle which the customer has already paid for design work etc.
You are not copying printed artwork which is copyrighted and not paid for.

How do you know that he has paid for the design work on his van Peter?

And why should designs on vans be treated differently to print work?
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:51 pm

John Childs wrote:Buy a font. Should you pay every time you use it on a job? Because that's what we are saying if we think that one of our customers should pay every time he slaps his logo on something.



John, if you buy a font it gives you permission to use it commercially for as long as you like but it doesn't mean you own the font design and copyright thereof.
In the UK a typeface can indeed be copyrighted but not so in the US, only by design patent.
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:56 pm

John Childs wrote:
Peter Dee wrote:Steve, a bit different really as you are copying a vehicle which the customer has already paid for design work etc.
You are not copying printed artwork which is copyrighted and not paid for.

How do you know that he has paid for the design work on his van Peter?

And why should designs on vans be treated differently to print work?


It is assumed that a signwritten van has been paid for for the sake of argument.

They are treated differently because the artwork if copyrighted would be in its original design form and marked as copyrighted.
A van would not be in the original design form and any contradiction of copyright agreements would only exist between the design originator and his client (with the van).
It would be different if a van design was copied which included registered or trade marked designs.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:56 pm

I think that John is correct here, in that once the customer has paid you for your time and design work you relinquish control of that work.
If that's not the case does that mean that the agencies that did the rebranding work for British Airways and ICI or more recently the design work for the 2012 Olympics are receiving a sort of royalty payment each month.

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Warren Beard

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:57 pm

peter, that's the same thing though, if a customer buys a design from you he is entitled to use it at his will, sure maybe you say he does not own it but if he can use it freely then what is the difference?
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:01 pm

Peter Dee wrote:It is assumed that a signwritten van has been paid for for the sake of argument..

Sorry, I don't understand why that should be assumed?

Lots of times I don't charge for design on vans. Therefore it's still mine.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:06 pm

John Childs wrote:Lots of times I don't charge for design on vans. Therefore it's still mine.


:yes1:

but if he bought it he owns it :wink:

John and I are on the same wave length here :lol1:
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:07 pm

Peter Dee wrote:To put it in simple terms related to signage, I supplied artwork for an a-board having already done their fascia.
A month or so later I saw a new a-board outside with MY layout and colouring.
I contacted the customer and explained that my work was copyrighted and that as he had used it (albeit via someone else) he would have to pay for the design. He went spare and threw a right wobbly.
Upshot was I took him to Court and won my case.
So it cost him a design fee, an admin charge, the Court fee, plus time off work for him and his wife.
I showed the registrar a photo of the board and my artwork and he said the design had been clearly "lifted" from my artwork.
It was only a small amount in reality but I wanted a test case for anything larger which might crop up.


Well done. Can you explain a bit more about how you went about doing this?
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:14 pm

John Childs wrote:
Peter Dee wrote:It is assumed that a signwritten van has been paid for for the sake of argument..

Sorry, I don't understand why that should be assumed?

Lots of times I don't charge for design on vans. Therefore it's still mine.


It's simpler for the sake of this discussion to assume that a signwriting job has been paid for it you are standing looking at a van job which has already been done.
Surely you are not suggesting that if we are asked to duplicate a van design on to another that we ask the customer for proof that he has already paid for what is being shown?
It is more than likely that the job has been paid for. Anyway, if not paid for you would not have copied anything which was marked "copyright" or "registered design" or "trademark".

So if you don't charge for designs I must assume that you copyright them.
If so, and you then spot a van with that design on it, you would be liable to follow up a copyright infringement but only with the original person who was given the design. If he was subsequently proved guilty of infringement he would be liable for any other uses of the design, not a third party.
Last edited by Peter Dee on Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:18 pm

Peter Dee wrote:John, if you buy a font it gives you permission to use it commercially for as long as you like but it doesn't mean you own the font design and copyright thereof.

I know what the licences say Peter, what I'm getting at is why should there be a difference?

A font designer only asks to be paid only once for his work. Why should a graphic designer, or a photographer, expect to be paid time and time again for the same job. I really don't understand that expectation.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:23 pm

Peter Dee wrote:Surely you are not suggesting that if we are asked to duplicate a van design on to another that we ask the customer for proof that he has already paid for what is being shown?

Why not?

That's what all the bleating is about with on this thread. Other sign companies copying designs for which the customer may not have paid. Van or print - no difference to me, or are you saying that if I do a van the customer is entitled to the artwork, but if I put that same design on a leaflet, then it's his?
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:24 pm

John Childs wrote:
Peter Dee wrote:John, if you buy a font it gives you permission to use it commercially for as long as you like but it doesn't mean you own the font design and copyright thereof.

I know what the licences say Peter, what I'm getting at is why should there be a difference?

A font designer only asks to be paid only once for his work. Why should a graphic designer, or a photographer, expect to be paid time and time again for the same job. I really don't understand that expectation.


I guess because the photographer Etc can stipulate that as part of the supply process.
I supply a design which passes to the customer on payment.
I could equally stipulate that that design can only be supplied and fitted by us.
It's all down to how people want to sell their products at point of sale and in the future.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 5:39 pm

John Childs wrote:
Peter Dee wrote:Surely you are not suggesting that if we are asked to duplicate a van design on to another that we ask the customer for proof that he has already paid for what is being shown?

Why not?

That's what all the bleating is about with on this thread. Other sign companies copying designs for which the customer may not have paid. Van or print - no difference to me, or are you saying that if I do a van the customer is entitled to the artwork, but if I put that same design on a leaflet, then it's his?


John, the original question was this (from Stephen):
we have a customer that has approached us to do some signs on his new building, when we went to assess and price the job up he presented us with some printed sheets that another sign company had supplied him with and it has their name on and a note saying that copyright belongs to them.

I think you may be drifting off the original point of copyright.
A design on paper marked copyright is a legal document in original form.
A van using that design has gone past the document stage and to do that must have adhered to the copyright. If it didn't then the copyright holder will have issues with the person who is passing off his designs for further use. It would not stand up in Court for a third party fitter who copied a van to be held liable for copyright infringement when he has never been shown anything to say the design was copyrighted.
The original designer would take his original customer to Court for the infringement, and this would take in to account all vehicles using that design whoever fitted them.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:01 pm

JonM01 wrote:
Peter Dee wrote:To put it in simple terms related to signage, I supplied artwork for an a-board having already done their fascia.
A month or so later I saw a new a-board outside with MY layout and colouring.
I contacted the customer and explained that my work was copyrighted and that as he had used it (albeit via someone else) he would have to pay for the design. He went spare and threw a right wobbly.
Upshot was I took him to Court and won my case.
So it cost him a design fee, an admin charge, the Court fee, plus time off work for him and his wife.
I showed the registrar a photo of the board and my artwork and he said the design had been clearly "lifted" from my artwork.
It was only a small amount in reality but I wanted a test case for anything larger which might crop up.


Well done. Can you explain a bit more about how you went about doing this?


This is more simple than you think.
Decide for yourself that a design of yours has definitely been used without permission.
Take pictures of the work for comparison with your printed artwork (your artwork must have been clearly marked with the copyright symbol as a minimum, with a date and provider).
Write to the person and describe the situation and include a bill for your design fee. Request payment within 7 days.
If no reply write again (recorded) with another 7 day notice stating that legal action will be taken if this is not paid.
After 7 days send a recorded letter stating that as settlement has not been received, legal action is about to be taken and they might become liable for Court costs as well as your fee.
Keep copies of all dated documents.
Either use the online Court Service http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/info ... /index.htm or submit forms to your local County Court.
You can download the PDF Court forms, fill them in and enclose copies with your letter to show that you mean business.
If someone just owes you money they will be on the phone within hours apologising profusely and sending you a cheque that day. At this point I would wait one day for that payment.
If you don't get your money or hear nothing, just go ahead and submit the action.
Just be sure of your facts and design. There has to be some 'skill, labour and judgment' that has gone into it, and it must be individual to you.
The copied work must be close enough for any unbiased person to come to the conclusion that it was copied from your design.
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John Childs

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:05 pm

"It would not stand up in Court for a third party fitter who copied a van to be held liable for copyright infringement when he has never been shown anything to say the design was copyrighted. "



I think I'm with you now Peter.

If another signmaker takes your printed design and makes an A board, then that's copyright theft.

However, if you make an A board and another signmaker copies that to make hundreds more, then that's perfectly fine?
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:23 pm

Perhaps you should read back a bit as I have just explained it in detail.

If you had given a copyrighted design to a single customer, then saw that design replicated, who would you take to Court with any hope of winning your case?
If your customer has shown it to other suppliers, it doesn't matter how many companies fit that design on to other vehicles, it will be him that has passed on the design so he will be liable.
I don't know why you can't get this, it seems simple to me unless I have lost my marbles completely :-?
I actually think that copyright is too wide a subject to provide a definitive answer here, especially with regards to graphic design which has many legal cross-over points.
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Peter Dee

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:31 pm

John Childs wrote:
However, if you make an A board and another signmaker copies that to make hundreds more, then that's perfectly fine?


In a word - YES.

Unless the original designer had stipulated that the design could only be reproduced by or with the permission of the originator.

Otherwise there is a grey area where the customer could have been deemed to have bought the rights to future use of the design via his initial contract.

I remember a case where a hairdresser had a fascia called Hairrods, all done in the same style and colours of Harrods.
Harrods took them to Court and won the case - against THEM, not the sign designer/fitter.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:35 pm

Well I've been earning all day,
applying black vinyl to a trailer, to change its colour, must be someones copyright (whoever first decided to paint a trailer black)
You guys must be quiet, to post such a comprehensive guide to copyright :wink:

Peter
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:36 pm

jeez, over my head now! lol.

i'm not in it to charge for each time they want to use my design, i generally offer free design (within reason), if the artwork has taken a long time, then as an option, i sometimes give the customer the option to buy the copyright / artwork from me at x amount. particularly if they are a bigger Co and wish to go elsewhere for other work such as printing.

the way i see it, i'm selling a product, that product has a price which does not include an art fee, therefore won't include the copyright.

generally i find with joe bloggs the builder, he's more than happy for me to arrange site boards, t-shirts, flyers, busi cards, letterheads, etc, so the copyright isn't really an issue!

who knows if i'm right or wrong now,

big can of worms!
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John Childs

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:52 pm

Well, despite all the above, I hope Peter's right, because I make my living by copying existing van designs. :D
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Martin Oxenham

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:03 pm

The simple answer to this problem is to do what we do and that is the customer is not allowed to take any drawing away without a deposit first.
We explain that this is to cover our time on the design and will be taken off the cost if we do the job. If they don't want to pay this up front then they are only allowed to view it on the computer and not take anything away.
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:09 pm

I've kept quiet long enough.... :wink:

we've most likely all done it...copied a design for a shop front, livery, banner whatever from something the customer's brought in. A business card, a flyer, their website - basically anything that SOMEBODY ELSE designed and we are asked to 'replicate'. It might not be a proof from 'Joe Bloggs Signs' - but it's still something you didn't originate.

Example: Who amongst us would flatly REFUSE to do a fleet of vans 'exactly the same as I have' because some other company designed & did the work previously...hmm I'll let you think about that one...

Just because it's now a completed job & not a concept / draft / proof makes it fair game? Emm, not in the eyes of certain copyright lawyers & courts. If I came up with a stunning original livery idea & see it replicated a dozen other times on their vans (say because we fell out over late payment)...a unit sign...flyers..website etc. I JUST DEAL WITH IT. I see no point in running off to the courts whining about lost revenue. That's not saying I've THOUGHT about it for the hell of it - but I'm far too busy to be faffing about over a couple of hundred quid in total...I can make that back in a couple of hours on customers that'll recommend me to others...not bemoan & bewail the fact that they were sued to everybody they meet.

There are DOZENS of signs / vans round Dundee that I designed...and somebody else made. I don't give a flying one... if they wanted my design...it was obviously better than the crap they were offered elsewhere...but I wasn't prepared to work for nothing to get the job. OK, so i lost a couple of quid in time...but hey, I still have the design to re-work into another clients...so no big deal.

As a closer...when (not IF) I'm presented with another company's work on paper. I'll maybe keep the basic concepts (say blue with a green shadow) - but redesign it to be in my...and the customers eye 'better'. I don't normally lose jobs on poor 'design'...just price...and by all accounts I'm normally pretty good value - so they are welcome to work for minimal profit if they need the work so bad / can't do their own design work. :lol1:

Stephen: Although the customer says they want it 'exactly' like that - do a redesign and present it anyway - you may surprise yourself / them into a modified version that bears a resemblance to the original, but is entirely your own...and an improvement on their ideas of previous 'perfection'.

Dave
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:44 pm

If a customer shows you a design on paper and says I want that...fair enough but quite different when you are presented with a design that has another ( sign or design co.) logo on it along with a copyright notice.............whole different ball game.
Most designs 'evolve' from the original idea into the end sign/van/window etc.

Designs will be 'stolen' or modified..........my opinion is that it goes with the territory.......get over it.

John
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:14 pm

hi all, great response, seems i have opened a big can of worms...

anyway, quick update...

i visited the customer today and sat down with him, explained the copyright situation and he explained that the reason he wasn't using the other companies services was because of the poor service they gave.

however, we came up with a new design, that in my opinion doesn't resemble the original design and the customer is happy, enough that we secured the job and start next week.

cheers for all your comments

stephen
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Chris Wool

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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:18 pm

dave said
Stephen: Although the customer says they want it 'exactly' like that - do a redesign and present it anyway - you may surprise yourself / them into a modified version that bears a resemblance to the original, but is entirely your own...and an improvement on their ideas of previous 'perfection'.


and i was about to say thats the best advice yet and steve has gone and done it. got the job start - smiling everybody :D
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Post Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:49 pm

For what its worth, any design I do, I charge the customer and he owns it. Saves any argument later. Its unreasonable to expect the customer will be happy with you owning it for ever.

Design companies, for the most part make the client sign declarations that advise they own the stuff. It may pay to take the same precaustions, but I promise you this, that if you inform the customer BEFORE you do the job that you'll always own the copyright to the artwork and you'll take legal action if the reproduce it without your express permission, they WILL go eleswhere.

And after being caught several times with my designs that accompany my quotes being copied, I no longer supply the design to a customer that is new. The designs stay with me, until they become a regular customer and I relax my grip.

I don't want to get started on copyright, because its another form of piracy, and we all know how I feel about that. :)

I wonder if anyone in this discussion has been happy to pass over a copyrighted vehicle outlines from their clipart because their friend at another shop 'only needs one van' and doesn't see the need to buy a whole disc full, and/or downloaded a font onto UKSB's that should have been purchased ie not free?

Its on the same line of thought as copyright. But, I've left my soapbox at home :oops: so thats a discussion for another day. :wink:
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 7:35 am

John Childs wrote:Well, despite all the above, I hope Peter's right, because I make my living by copying existing van designs. :D


Yes but you have permission to do this from the designer of the van i.e the agency or client direct. If a client is showing a design to another sign writer who did not design the artwork without the originators permission, that is without doubt infringement of the copyright. If the originator has sanctioned this then permission is given and no problem.

Peter
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John Childs

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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:19 am

Peter Mindham wrote:Yes but you have permission to do this from the designer of the van i.e the agency or client direct. If a client is showing a design to another sign writer who did not design the artwork without the originators permission, that is without doubt infringement of the copyright. If the originator has sanctioned this then permission is given and no problem.

We rarely get to talk to designers or the agencies involved in the origination of any design. Yes we have permission from the client but, as discussed above, does he have the authority to give it, or is his layout and logo design still the copyright of the original designer?

Who is the copyright holder for the Homeserve logo? We would like the think that Homeserve are, but how can we know that for sure?
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:54 am

have any of you had to fight a copyright case before or had someone fight a case against you???

I just think that we are all probably going to sooner than later without knowing actually breech a copyright law.
I just think that you could be extremely picky about it and then you will end up spending your whole life fighting copyright cases and do no work.

Obviously if it is a real blatant example like copping exactly what another sign company has come up with by looking at their visuals then i do agree with it. Unfortunately in the business we are in we will have a design of ours being copied one day.

another question. do you have to put a copyright infringement message on all your designs to be covered against this or is it just something that is automatic. Do you have a leg to stand on if someone copies your work that you never put a notice on?
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:43 pm

John Childs wrote:Who is the copyright holder for the Homeserve logo? We would like the think that Homeserve are, but how can we know that for sure?


Any half decent design agency would sell a licence to use the logo for a period of time, and not sell the copyright outright. If the product then goes on to become a major brand name and multi-million pound outfit then the design agency has a second bite at the cherry. Its a bit like royalties.

Copyright is automatically associated with the originator, putting a copyright mark and date etc is just marking the time and date, if you can prove in another way you created it at a certain time (job sheets, invoices etc) then there is no real need.

....... unless of course you are giving your drawings away!
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Shane Drew

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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:00 pm

DaneRead wrote:another question. do you have to put a copyright infringement message on all your designs to be covered against this or is it just something that is automatic. Do you have a leg to stand on if someone copies your work that you never put a notice on?


I always put a copyright notice on my drawings. My new estimate sign software also puts the word PROOF all over the artwork if it is emailed or printed, along with the copyright message that states the artwork remains my property and is not automatically transferred on payment of the account..

I spoke to a client today who has registered their design I did for them.

Their copyright solicitor said that to prove you own the design, all you have to do is print the final design to paper, sign it, and post it to yourself.

The post offices postmark will prove the date its been sent. So, if someone else uses your design, you can prove ownership if it goes to court by producing the unopen date stamped envelope.

Its fail proof in court, unless they have done the same thing, and can produce it with an earlier date. Then you are up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

The only other way you'd lose is if the client successfully argues in court that he thought he had paid for it, or it was included in the original job you did and account you rendered. So, if you don't state on your invoice that the artwork remains your property, and is not transferred automatically when paying the bill, your client may win the case if it goes to court.. if he has a good lawyer.
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:02 pm

Hi All,

Did start reading this thread but it's gone on quite long, so just in case it hasn't been covered - which I'm sure it has by now -

Be it signwriting or design agency, the land lies the same way, you create artwork for someone who hasn't paid you specifically for the design, you own it and in theory control it - you haven't given customer digital copy.

If they pay you for this service, you give them digital copy and they are free to reproduce wherever and whenever.

If you originate artwork that the customer doesn't pay for yet they go to another firm to reproduce it, you can pursue the client in county court, so long as it's obvious they have used or stuck closely to your design - because you were verbally asked to undertake this design service, so in theory they still have to pay you for the design, you can't stop someone else making the sign though.

This happened to me and I pursued it through trading standards.
Like all these things though, it's a case of time and if you can be bothered to pursue. As a signmaker you are not responsible for any come back from copyright, it's down to the client to settle with the originator.
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:15 pm

Russell Spencer wrote: :o
Any half decent design agency would sell a licence to use the logo for a period of time, and not sell the copyright outright. If the product then goes on to become a major brand name and multi-million pound outfit then the design agency has a second bite at the cherry. Its a bit like royalties.



I came up against this last year.

A private school I do a lot of work for, got a design agency to do up a heap of artwork for signs, then I won the contract to reproduce them.

I won the contract, but the school were slow in coming forward with the final designs. I asked them why.

They said the design agency only licensed them to produce 4 designs before they had to pay another license fee. They had already sent off the original 4 designs to the Screen Printer, the embroiderer, the printer and a fabricator. I was the 5th and final contractor needing a design.

The new 4 user license was going to cost them another $17,000.

I asked them what was so special about the design, and they said they had a font made up especially for them. I said if that was the case I understood the license, although thought it was pretty expensive and restrictive.

They showed me the font as we spoke and it was a linotype font http://www.linotype.com/1169/veto-family.html costing me $68.00.

I said to the head guy he's being ripped off. I told him its a standard font that I have access to. He was livid.

Turns out the woman that signed off on the contract was having an affair with the designer, and being a private school with a lot of money she thought she was on a winner.

Needless to say, I do all the signs now and the designer was lucky he wasn't sued. They treat me very well there too, knowing I saved them a lot of money every year. :cool:
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:56 pm

That's actually a very entertaining story Shane. You should write a film about it. You could call it "Sex, fonts and application tape".
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:36 pm

Interesting story which has some similarities to this thread (apart from the goblins)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7412671.stm

I love the expression 'To a goblin the rightful and true master of any object is the maker, not the purchaser'
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Post Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:55 pm

Andy Gorman wrote:That's actually a very entertaining story Shane. You should write a film about it. You could call it "Sex, fonts and application tape".
:lol1:
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Dave Bruce

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Post Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:44 am

Wow been too busy to be on here for weeks, then this old subject appears.

The way I work is, I own copyright unless the customer buys it from me. The way I see it is my customers are asking me for a sign/van livery/flyer etc, they are not asking me to design a company logo, then supply a sign/van livery etc and as such I charge for supplying that and a small charge for coming up with the layout. Some customers have gone to a designer to get their logo designed, then come to me to have a sign made, the difference is they pay £250+ for the design work so they 'own' it to give to me to produce other products. I am only charging them a small fee for my 'design' time so feel they have not paid for the design, and my layout sheet says I own copyright.

I had to refuse to do a customers printing as I knew my competitor had done the logo design, I told them if they asked for the design on disc from them then I would be able to do the job.

I am just working out a cost to charge one of my customers as he had a new van done by another company, after me doing two of his vans already (reckoned he didn't know it was being done). When I phoned him to discuss the situation he asked me to give him a price to buy the copyright.

I think you need to distinguish between the product of design and sign/van livery/printing etc.

I spoke to the copyright people when I first started and was told that if there was any artistic design involved I had copyright, if it was just layout of text there was no copyright (as you have bought the text to use).

I have had my design copied but as yet never taken any legal action, as David says I am just too busy to spend the time in court.

I would think with John's van duplication scenario, the companies are large national companies that have paid a design agency to produce a logo and therefore have paid for the design aspect (copyright) at the start, like the Olympic logo, Nottinghams logo etc.

Cheers

Dave
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Richard O

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Post Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:29 pm

Hi,

What if???

Say I am a large company, I go to a designer and ask them to design a logo for me - I pay them for it.

Do I own the logo??

Then because I am a large company I need to get 3 quotes so I take that logo to 3 different companies for a quote

What then - who owns what???

Rich
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Shane Drew

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Post Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:53 pm

Richard O wrote:Hi,

What if???

Say I am a large company, I go to a designer and ask them to design a logo for me - I pay them for it.

Do I own the logo??

Then because I am a large company I need to get 3 quotes so I take that logo to 3 different companies for a quote

What then - who owns what???

Rich


Rich, if you stipulate to the designer that you must own the copyright, they'll charge you accordingly.

If you don't, it is assumed you don't own the copyright, and you must notify them everytime you use or duplicate it - technically. In real life, most large corporations always buy the copyright. Its only the small businesses that assume the logo is theirs to do with whatever they like.

It is not usually a problem unless they become a huge business, then the original designer will hold them to ransom over the design.

A good patent lawyer would have that covered though, because if you were going to franchise for instance, it would be the first thing he'd address.

I had by business name stolen a few years back, and was sued by some clown who liked my name, realised it wasn't a registered logo, so he registered it and sat on it hoping to start a sign franchise business at a later stage.

I proved thru the courts that I'd been using the name long before the date on the registration documents, and that the new 'owner' was not yet trading. I won the case, but it could have gone either way.
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Post Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:07 am

Hi Shane,

I was on the way out the door this morning when I wrote the above so it probably didn't come out as I intended - so let me try again.

Say you had designed a logo for me and I went ahead and got 50 done by you.

Then 12mths down the track a new manager comes on board and says I like that logo so much that I want all of our vehicles done exactly the same - but because we are a large company the manager insists that we get 3 quotes ( this is a regular occurrence with large companies).

So I get a quote from you because you done the last lot and I get quotes from 2 other companies and obviously because we want them exactly the same as your original we show them your design to quote on.

For one reason or another the company decides to go with another company - it has nothing to do with any one thing in particular workmanship, being cheapskates ect it is just the way it works sometimes.

So is it then fair/reasonable that you as the original designer can then say that you can't use my design because it is copyrighted so if you don't go with me you will have to change the logo (even though you were paid for the work that you done previously).

All the above is fictional except that a lot of large companies demand that their staff get a min of 3 quotes for most jobs and I am just adding to the debate as their is a lot of for and against on this subject.

Rich
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Shane Drew

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Post Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:26 pm

Technically Rich, in Australia, unless the original designer relinquished the copyright when he did the original design, then yes, you would need to change the design in order for another sign shop to produce it. If you wanted to get three quotes, the only way around it would be to get each shop to redraw the logo from your description, and submit their interpretation of your verbal or visual design.

I'm sure we've all been there though. I still fume when I drive past a building on the way to the Gold Coast. I spent 2 days designing and measuring a building, then submitting my $5000 quote to the client.

I didn't get the job, only to find 2 weeks later, another sign shop reproducing my design to the exact dimensions and colours.

I rang the client and he said the other guy was $500 cheaper. I pointed out that he didn't spend 2 days measuring and designing, of course he would be cheaper.

I saw a solicitor, and he said technically I had a claim, but I did a few things wrong. I didn't have a disclaimer stating that it was always going to be my artwork ( assuming they should know is not always a good enough defense), and I shouldn't have given him the artwork without a signature, and the artwork was not dated.

Even though everything said in this thread is basically true (the original designer has copyright) unless you take the right steps, it can be a hard case to argue in court here. Then you have the time and money to fight it. My prospective client is much wealthier than me.

Getting back to your hypothetical, as I say, yes technically the other shops would need your approval before they reproduce the sign. If the artwork has no disclaimer on it though, they could and would argue they didn't know who the designer was to ask permission, as in my situation.

End of the day, it comes down to how good your lawyer is I guess.

Now, I usually just sell the rights to the artwork in my quote, and I make sure all my artwork has a disclaimer before handing it over for a quote. My disclaimer states 'requesting a design and/or acceptance of the job, and/or payment of your account does not automatically transfer the ownership of any logo or artwork copyright from Drew's Sign It Pty Ltd.' I've not had any artwork copied to my knowledge since I took legal advice and started to do it.
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Post Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:39 pm

Shane

I can see where you and the others are coming from and I guess I would be piffed off as well (but at this stage my work aint good enough for me to be piffed off :) BUT

Technically, if you came to me and said design me a logo from scratch I would agree with every one about who owns the copyright.

But I would have thought that the majority of customers wanting a design for a logo (from scratch) as an example would have a preconceived idea of what they want the design to look like and as such would at the least have a sketch on paper or similar (I know I would) to give you an idea of the layout, colour ect that they want.

So Technically is it NOT the customer who would own the copyright as they supplied the ORIGINAL sketch & the idea and I as the designer only gave them the finished product done from their ORIGINAL sketch & ideas for a fee.

Rich
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Post Sat Jun 07, 2008 1:35 am

Richard O wrote:
So Technically is it NOT the customer who would own the copyright as they supplied the ORIGINAL sketch & the idea and I as the designer only gave them the finished product done from their ORIGINAL sketch & ideas for a fee.

Rich


Rich, you and I think the same.... Thats the very reason why I relinquish copyright. If the customer has come to me with an idea, especially in a sketch form, I view it as being paid to interpret his/her idea electronically. If I can add some ideas, or give some advice, then it all goes well for a good result, which would reflect on my professionalism and a good working relationship.

If I'm paid to come with up with everything, then that is a different story.

I'll go home and tell my wife I found another bloke that thinks like me... that'll scare the dickens out of her :lol1:
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Richard O

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Post Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:14 am

[I'll go home and tell my wife I found another bloke that thinks like me... that'll scare the dickens out of her :lol1:[/quote]


Frightening isn't it (hot) (hot)

Anyway hows the weather up there - the rains finally stopped here in Syd and the suns shining - so life's still good

Rich
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Shane Drew

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Post Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:29 am

Richard O wrote:
Anyway hows the weather up there - the rains finally stopped here in Syd and the suns shining - so life's still good

Rich


rain till next wednesday they say. They wouldn't have a clue though. We had 6mm overnight, blue skys at the mo, but rain clouds on the horizon as I type.

It will give all the people in Brisbane who got flooded last week a chance to dry out I guess, ready for the next round. Our dams are upto almost 40% capacity which is good. The government will relieve the water restrictions they reckon.

Pity we have to be penalised for their shortsighted vote promises 10 years ago when they got into power on the No Dam policy (with the help of the Greens) The previous governments building of the controversial Wolfdene dam was it seems, right on the money in regards long term water. Then Labor got in, sold off all the land that the previous government had already purchased, and now we have not got enough water, 10 years later.

Typical short sighted politicians, driven by power, rather than commonsense.

Off my soap box now :oops:

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