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HELP! I think I'm screwed......

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  • HELP! I think I'm screwed......

    The short of the long - designed 5 beer labels for a brewery (a friend of a friend) - didn't pay me for the last one (filed in small claims, geeez!) but recently found out that some BITCH at the brewery (fascinated with Photoshop Elements!) has been cutting and pasting my labels to create new ones (she's made 3) - ok, beat me now, I didn't copyright (I know, I know) but who owns it? He paid for the first 4 labels - who owns the design elements. I've consulted a patent lawyer and my 'free' consultation is used to determine if there is a conflict of interest - so then I pay $190/HOUR to find out if I have a case. Besides wanting to get some kind of $ for what was stolen, I WANT HIM TO STOP RIPPING ME OFF. In addition, the BITCH'S version is close enough to mine that the general public will think that is my work and that I just got sloppy or lazy (great for the ole portfolio!)

    I've been to and read until my eyes bleed but can't find anything about 'what happens if you don't copyright?' - I feel like this is blatant because he requested 5, paid for 4 and THEN started stealing.

    Can anyone give me a reference? A lawyer who's dealt with this (that might be able to give me a thumbs up or down without the meter running....)

  • #2
    yuck. I don't know what to tell you... have you checked out the AIGA or GAG sites? Or contacted them? It seems they would be able to give you the best advice, and maybe recommend a lawyer or two...

    best wishes!
    "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot


    • #3
      Eh, just chalk it up as your "I should have used a contract that spells all this out" lesson and move on.


      • #4
        check out GAG. The laws were changed a few years ago to protect us against this. As long as you can show that it is your design (the files on your comp etc.) and that you created them, you own the copyrights with or without the paper unless you sign away the copyrights. It's not theirs. Unfortunately, you will prob have to pay an arm and a leg to prove it but it is yours. good luck, keep us posted on how its going.

        People who live in glass houses sink ships.


        • #5
          I think the law is on your side, actually. Copyright isn't something you "do" -- you own something if you create it, and if somebody pays you for it, you can transfer those rights. Artists are protected by the law for such things as I understand it.

          Not legal advice here, just what I understand. If you want to pursue this, I think you'll want to pay that $190 bucks.
          You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. --GWB


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kool
            Eh, just chalk it up as your "I should have used a contract that spells all this out" lesson and move on.
            Sadly, this is how it usually ends up anyway. I am lucky to have attorney friends that I've consulted with when somebody has ripped me off, and they basically say "some people are just a-holes, is it worth it for you to go after this person?" What is it that you want from the situation, payment? I guess you have to decide if they'll pay anyway even with all the trouble.
            You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. --GWB


            • #7
              didn't get to read the whole thing (busy, busy!) but check this out:

              "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot


              • #8
                I believe anything you design is automatically copywritten and you own the rights until they are given by purchase. I could be wrong, but if you can show a intent to purchase trail from the client you should be good in a claims court.


                • #9
                  GAG might be able to hook you up with a free lawyer...they might simply ask that you join their club...check it out
                  "I has puter, I isam dsgna?!"


                  • #10
                    The money is secondary to stopping him - this brewery produces 12 new beers a year, I don't want my work plagerized anymore


                    • #11
                      Go to this forum and post in brush with the law thread. They have an attorney that regularly checks in and answers question. Be prepared for a lecture about copyrighting your work and he's gonna tell you to get an attorney, but he will probably have some good advice for you, too.


                      You'll have to register, too. It's a private forum.
                      You're no longer a child when a mud puddle is an obstacle rather than an opportunity!


                      • #12
                        I was reading through the copyright law on wikipedia.

                        In the United States, copyright has relatively recently been made automatic (in the style of the Berne Convention), which has had the effect of making it appear to be more like a property right. Thus, as with property, a copyright need not be granted or obtained through official registration with any Government Office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape or a letter), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights. However, while a copyright need not be officially registered for the copyright owner to begin exercising his exclusive rights, registration of works (where the laws of that jurisdiction provide for registration) does have benefits; it serves as prima facie evidence of a valid copyright and enables the copyright holder to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees (whereas in the USA, for instance, registering after an infringement only enables one to receive actual damages and lost profits). The original holder of the copyright may be the employer of the actual author rather than the author himself if the work is a "work for hire". Again, this principle is widespread; in English law the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 provides that where a work in which copyright subsists is made by an employee in the course of that employment, the copyright is automatically assigned to the employer
                        What I get out of that is, that if you never signed the copyrights via the contract, you are still entitled to those rights, without registration. Unless you are a "work for hire", then you technically don't own it, but it too must be in the contract signed.

                        Don't quote me, but thats how I understood it.

                        Maybe go to another lawyer, get a 2nd opinion?

                        *edit* bolded what I thought was really important, and very well might be for your situation.
                        Last edited by Navian; 09-01-2006, 12:45 PM.
                        If there is no passion in your life, then have you already lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you, and you will find great things happen for you, to you, and because of you.
                        -T. Alan Armstrong


                        • #13
                          thanks - that helps a lot


                          • #14
                            Talk to them. Calmly and Rationally. Say "Hey I did the work, this is what I'd like in return" At least get the credit. Who's the B**ch at the brewery that changed or altered the labels? Marketing, Secretary, Line Worker? Just be upfront and professional with them.

                            I'd say if all else fails then you take the legal action.
                            "Every facet, every department of your mind is to be programmed by you, and unless you assume your rightful responsibility, and begin to program your own mind, the world will program it for you."


                            • #15
                              the brewer's wife - looking for purpose, and a shortcut






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