Moral rights / rights of author

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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hetha77
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Moral rights / rights of author

Post by hetha77 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:34 am

Hello,
Last year I was employed full time by a company to design brochures, logos, websites etc for their clients. I subsequently left and have started working for myself as a freelancer / sole trader. Despite having no IP clause in my previous contract, I understand that my previous employer has the copyright to all work that I created in the course of my duties there. However, I also understand that I have the moral rights to the work, namely the right to be named as author of the work.

As a new "company" I have set up a website / blog with a pdf portfolio download of previous work. Amongst these items are a couple of works I created whilst employed at the company. I have since been contacted by that company and told to remove the work and also request in writing any time I wish to show this work to someone. In my experience, any graphic and web designer keeps copies of their "portfolio / past work" to show as examples of the kind of work that they have done and can do - else they would not be able to get any further work (limitation of trade?) I am happy to have a sub text on the download saying "work created whilst at ..." (indeed I have seen this on quite a few other sites). Could you please confirm if I am correct?

many thanks
Last edited by hetha77 on Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:38 am

Hi,
Unfortunately there is no specific exemption for authors to retain a copy of work they have created when the copyright passes to another person, although I agree with you, that in the circumstances you describe it is a fair and reasonable thing for you to do.

Copyright can be infringed just by copying, without any act of issuing the resulting copy to the public, which is normally the act which a copyright owner would object to. There are some circumstances where such copying does not infringe, and the most relevant one for your purposes is Section 29 (1C):
(1C) Fair dealing with a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work for the purposes of private study does not infringe any copyright in the work
The problem is that this would be nullified by showing the work to the publc (ie a new client who wanted to see examples of your earlier work). Since the PR company have said that you can request their permission to show the material to others, it would seem they are implicitly acknowledging that you may hold a copy of the work for your private use.

I'm not sure any court would see restricting or forbidding you from exhibiting your earlier work as a restraint of trade (which would be dealt with separately from copyright law). And the fact the PR company have said you can seek permission, would appear to suggest that they are at least being fair with you.

On the moral right to be credited as the author, unfortunately, the law is quite specific:
79 Exceptions to right.

(1) The right conferred by section 77 (right to be identified as author or director) is subject to the following exceptions.
...

(3) The right does not apply to anything done by or with the authority of the copyright owner where copyright in the work originally vested in the author’s or director’s employer by virtue of section 11(2) (works produced in the course of employment).
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

hetha77
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Post by hetha77 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:44 am

Thanks Andy!
Best, H

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