copyright and retaining the rights to sell designs

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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hansolo
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copyright and retaining the rights to sell designs

Post by hansolo » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:38 am

a question on how as designer . As an example the company i work for creates web design themes and sell the same theme to different business within the uk.


we manage to sell the same theme. I see our company holds on to copy right and this not on one product we do this with characters which are designed and logos.


I would like to know what steps need to be taken to have the same rights when designing . As our company does manage this and seen other companies do a same thing
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typonaut
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Post by typonaut » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:23 pm

I think what you are asking is what steps does a designer need to take in order to retain the copyright on any work they do, and at the same time allow someone else to use it.

The first step in understanding here is that the creator usually is the first owner of the copyright. One exception to that is when the work is done in the course of their employment - in that case the first owner of the copyright is the employer.

When you produce work for someone else to use there is no assumption that the copyright of that work has been transferred to that person. An example may be that when you buy a book you do not then own the copyright for that work too. But there is clearly an assumption that you have some rights to use such work - a constructive contract.

In the case of a book, that may just mean that you have the right to use the book, and sell the hard copy on to someone else in the future (without retaining a copy for yourself). When you produce work as you have outlined the inference is that you may have given the purchaser rights to use/publish the works on their own web site, without the right to sell on to others.

To make this constructive element explicit you would grant the user a written licence that laid out the terms under which they could use the designs. This may, for instance, say that they could use the designs for a web site, but they could not use them in print. Or, it could say that they could use the designs for a "*.co.uk" domain, but not for a "*.co.jp" domain. Or, in this case, that they have a non-exclusive licence to use, and that you may sell the design, or elements of the design, to others.

I have heard designers advised to explicitly retain the copyright to logo designs, but grant the customer limited usage rights. The way this has been articulated is that you restrict their use to within the UK, if they then want to use the logo throughout the EU or even worldwide then you make them buy a further licence to do so.
Any comment on this forum is just banter, it is not legal advice.

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