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Does client have rights to my sketches

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Active Member
Nathan R Member Since: Mar 5, 2019
1 of 12

I am new to Upwork and got my first contract for a logo design last Tuesday. The initial posting was for an hourly job, but the client really liked what I had to offer and offered me the job right away. The job was switched to a fixed price with three milestones: 1) consultation, 2) concept sketches and 3) final digital files. There was never a timeline discussed.

 

We did the consultation that same day that I sent my proposal and the contract was accepted. The first milestone was then approved. There was even a color palette added during the consultation.

 

Friday I sent the color palette and initial sketches (a wordmark and 4 icon ideas), and the client immediately approved the second milestone plus gave a bonus payment for the color palette. Sunday he gets back to me with the sketch direction that he wants to take and asks for a minor switch to the color palette. Today I make the change to the color palette, but had other projects to work on so did not get to starting the digital rendering of the sketches yet, so I told them I would have the rendering by the end of the week.

 

About an hour ago I get an email saying that the client has asked for a refund on the final milestone and has ended the project. Nothing was ever sent to me prior to this. When I go to the messages there is now a message saying that they found a local solution to finish the project, and "Thank you for the time, sketches and palette." So I ask if there was something wrong and if it was because I said I would have the rendering by the end of the week, and they say yes.

 

I understand that the color palette is now their property because that was a separate bonus for a finalized element, however the sketches are a simply a part of the design process. Does this mean that they now have full rights to use those sketches with another designer?

Active Member
Nathan R Member Since: Mar 5, 2019
2 of 12

Also, how will this affect my ratings on the site having a contract cancelled part of the way through? Though he cancelled he still said he would leave five stars.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 12

Nathan:

If you are hired using an hourly contract, then ALL WORK PRODUCT created while logging time belongs to the client.

 

If you create sketches while logging time, then the sketches are not "your sketches." They belong to the client.

 

If you are hired using a fixed-price contract, then the client is entitled to receive ONLY what was agreed to in the description of each milestone.

Active Member
Nathan R Member Since: Mar 5, 2019
4 of 12
It was not an hourly contract. The initial project was posted as an hourly contract. The client changed it to a fixed price contract and that’s the contract that I accepted. So it was a fixed price contract with three milestones not an hourly contract.
Active Member
Nathan R Member Since: Mar 5, 2019
5 of 12
So if one of the milestones is sketches then any sketches that are presented to the client for that milestone become the clients correct?
Community Guru
Michael S Member Since: Aug 29, 2017
BEST ANSWER
6 of 12

Precisely. Any work delivered and accepted as part of an agreed-upon milestone becomes the property of the client.

Active Member
Nathan R Member Since: Mar 5, 2019
7 of 12

Thank you for the clarification.

Active Member
Larry L Member Since: Jun 28, 2019
8 of 12

If I PAID for sketches and could not legally use them I'd be PISSED!  It is selfish to even suggest doing that to a client who paid his hard earned money for those sketches only to have you take them back but keep his money!

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9 of 12
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It's even worse when a client thinks they own copyrighted work without paying for it.
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10 of 12
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They do own your work until you receive payment. It has nothing to do with the rules of this platform.

It's basic copyright law, which I might add, Preston has no background in.