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Portfolio usage of work

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  • Portfolio usage of work

    Can someone make you take down something on your portfolio web site?

    I don't claim copyright on them, however I see that there is Copyright Fair Use, which means you are allowed to put things up and do a review of them or a parody. So I guess if anything, we are allowed to put up a review of the work. So even if they say to take it down, we have the right to make a review on them.

  • #2
    If you've looked into fair use and still don't know the answer, I would recommend you speak to a lawyer. If the artist asks you to take their work down, the polite thing to do is take it down. If, however, you are truly providing a review of the work, fair use may come into play. Again, a lawyer can give you better answers than we can.
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    • #3
      Why would you have someone else's work on your portfolio site?
      Why would you not honor a takedown notice?
      Doesn't matter if you don't claim copyright, or even if you credit the work appropriately. If you post it without permission of the actual copyright holder, you may be in violation of the law. Fair Use and legal precedent rarely make sense. You would be trusting to a judge's or jury's interpretation. Also if the work is actually registered with the Copyright Office, the owner can more successfully sue you for damages.
      Criteria applied by a court to determine fair use:

      <not a lawyer


      • #4
        Well the work would be work I did. For example lets say I designed someone's logo, poster or website and they want me to take it down.


        • #5
          Logos tend to transfer copyright upon payment. It becomes their property. If they trademark it, even more so.

          If you want permission to show work you did, put it in your contract that you reserve the right to use images of the work on your portfolio site for promotional purposes.

          Some people will strike that line out of the contract before signing it, but not often.
          Some companies might let you put stuff on your website if there is no reference in searchable copy as to who the client is. You might do some signage for a place like Six Flags but can only call it something generic, like ''theme park signage'' so the SEO isn't linked to their brand in any way.

          Then there are the places you do work for that will not let you use any of it online. That is their choice when they hire you. But find out up front.
          Any imagery or copy a client may provide, they own the copyright, not you, and they can tell you it is not ok to display it.

          There are also some stock image licensing issues that could crop up. For instance an image on a poster for which you paid the print royalty, but not the web use royalty. They have a tendency to find those things and send you a bill.

          If a client says "take it down" it's generally a good idea to do so, especially if you want any more work from them, or anyone else they may know.
          Not to mention the whole legal/court thing.

          Are you an LLC or a sole proprietor? Something to think about if the client seeks damages under brand dilution or some other collateral issue.

          I was working recently with an artist who was in the process of sending out C&D letters (Cease and Desist), actually she had a lawyer doing it, to all the online websites using her artwork without permission (some of them profiting by selling prints.) Not exactly the same, but some people do pursue the matter, and if a lawyer gets involved, they want their cut. They don't work for free.

          Just sayin.

          <Not a lawyer.
          Last edited by PrintDriver; 10-21-2017, 08:32 PM.


          • #6
            Here's a link to an article written by an attorney on HOW magazine's website that deals with the broader subject:


            • #7
              Nice article B, and illustrates my point about being an LLC or a sole proprietor. The LLC is a business entity separate from your personal life. With sole proprietorship, all of your belongings and assets are on the line when that $150,000 court decision comes down.


              • #8
                So I guess never take a job somewhere, unless you put in some guidelines on how you can use work you did.


                • #9
                  Either that or ask permission before posting it online.
                  As the article noted, establishing contact before the fact is a means of re-establishing contact with a satisfied client, as well as establishing parameters for posting the work. Even a large Fortune 100 company may let you post things if certain conditions are met. But if you just post it first, it is most likely the branding or legal department that will find it, and their first reaction is ''Take it Down,'' because they didn't approve it.

                  Remember too, that when taking jobs, it isn't always your contract that gets signed. A lot of times a major client will have their own contract and you abide by the text of their contract. Be sure you read it. If you don't understand something, ask. A lot of clients are now stipulating that absolutely no form of online discussion about their project can occur, at least not until after the release/grand opening/startup/whatever occurs. More than half the things in the crit pit would be a breach of contract if that clause were in there.
                  Last edited by PrintDriver; 10-23-2017, 07:30 AM.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pers0n View Post
                    So I guess never take a job somewhere, unless you put in some guidelines on how you can use work you did.

                    I think that's usually a good idea, even in those instances when it's not strictly necessary. Then again, that runs the risk of them saying no, even when you have the legal right to use the work for promotional purposes, which creates something of a conundrum. Even so, it's just a matter of being polite and maintaining good relationships to ask.

                    I'm not an attorney, so take my following view on it all with a grain of salt.

                    It's something most freelance clients don't understand, but unless the designer (photographer, illustrator, videographer, etc.) specifically transfers the copyright, the designer still owns that copyright and is free to use the work for promotional purposes.

                    The exception to this is when working for an employer or when the designer signs a work-for-hire contract. As the article points out, work-for-hire has a specific legal definition that, as I understand it, automatically means the work and the copyright belong to the client. If you do work for a larger company, and they have their own contract they want you to sign, chances are that it will use the words work-for-hire in the contract. When you sign that contract, you give up all rights to the work. When I've run into one of these instances, I'll often request that a clause be inserted into the contract giving me the right to use the work for limited self-promotional purposes. Sometimes they agree to that, and other times they don't. When they don't, on occasion, I've raised my price to compensate for the loss.

                    For what it's worth, when dealing with most freelance clients, it's almost always my contract that I negotiate with the client. Just to remove any ambiguity or misunderstanding, I'll specifically mention in the contract that the copyright is transferred to the client upon payment for the job but that I reserve the perpetual right to use that work for self-promotional purposes.


                    • #11
                      The designer may own the rights to the design, but they may not own the copyright on any photos or copywriting used in the design or any trademarked logos. In cases where there is client supplied content, that's where most major sticking points lie. That, and the SEO thing. We have more problems with SEO than content. Even with the corporate branding obviously prominent in the photo, they sometimes only allow generic descriptions in the text content.

                      < Not a lawyer.
                      Last edited by PrintDriver; 10-23-2017, 11:26 AM.






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