[thelist] Re: Logo design (long)

Mattias Thorslund mattias at inreach.com
Sun Jan 30 22:24:16 CST 2005

But, but, but.... This is even more confusing..  Sorry for the 
hair-splitting but I have some questions on some of this....

Tara Cleveland wrote:

> I'm sorry, I just can't let this go any longer. Especially since 
> people  seem to be taking it as fact.
> Some of the things that Viveka wrote are just not true. And in some  
> cases she's got it dangerously wrong! Copyright laws are not simple.  
> They aren't impossible to understand, but they aren't simple either.
> *********
> Any graphic design that's published is automatically copyright. If you
> did it for a client without a contract saying otherwise, then it's
> "work for hire" and they own the rights.
> ***********
> No, no and no. Actually it's the opposite. If you are an *employee*  
> then your work is owned by your employer. Otherwise, unless the  
> copyright is specifically sold in a contract, then you as the  
> contractor and author own the copyright to the work.
> So it's actually the opposite. If you create a logo, web site design 
> or  other artistic or literary work *you* are the copyright owner 
> unless  you have created it as an employee - in which case your 
> employer holds  the copyright.

You mean to say that "work for hire" would not apply if a client hires a 
professional for a particular project (such as a company hiring a 
designer - or a design firm - for a logo)? It seems you mean that unless 
someone works under an "employment" contract, the transfer of rights to 
the employer wouldn't happen. 

Question 1: When you do contract work for someone, isn't it a form of 
Question 2: If I hired someone to do a design for me, how is it a 
legitimate transaction if I get no rights to the resulting work?

The specifics of who gets the copyright and who gets what usage rights 
could of course be spelled out in the contract. Given the amount of 
confusion here, that seems to be the safest thing to do.

> ***************
>  This is how almost all
> graphic design work is done, across various fields. Photography is a
> special case; Photographers often carry around a bevy of release forms
> and contracts to ensure that they keep the rights, and only assign
> specific usage to their clients. If you're a designer you could try to
> do the same, but it would be very unusual and you would lose any
> well-informed clients."
> *************
> This is misleading. Photography is *not* a special case in terms of  
> copyright (in general). 

I don't see that Viveka makes any claim that photography is any special 
case when it comes to copyright.  She talks about the common business 
practice in that particular industry, not copyright.  I don't think 
that's unclear or misleading.

> Photographers carry around release forms as  model releases because 
> people have a right to control their own image  and must release 
> copyright to it.

This is entirely new to me... I've heard it's the photographer's 
copyright by default, or at least if you are in a public place and not 
in private.  Anyway, that's a bit off-topic perhaps.

> If you don't spell out joint authorship or specific usage rights, but  
> sell or assign copyright that means that you *may not* use that  
> specific rollover code again.

I can imagine that, but provided that it was written specifically for 
that project. If it was already written and put in the developer's 
"toolbox", I wouldn't think it would apply. If it's written by someone 
else and shared, either under a specific license that allows re-use by 
others (e.g. an open source license), or put in the "public domain" 
(a.k.a. freeware), nothing would prevent anyone from using that rollover 

For clarity, it would be nice to express in the contract that certain 
"libraries" of generic code are to be shared between client and 
developer of course.


More views at http://www.thorslund.us

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