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Who Owns the Design?

Ace Contributor
Teddi B Member Since: Aug 2, 2015
11 of 28

Thanks Jess. I always thought the same thing--the copyright belongs to the designer unless assigned to the client. Last night I discovered that Upwork was assigning the client ownership. I'm surprised that Petra said that I was putting myself at a "competetive disadvantage compared with other freelancers who do not impose conditions that differ from Upwork's."

 

My terms and conditions are set up so that the client and myself have an understanding of the scope of the project and what we expect from each other. It's to prevent any misunderstanding down the road.

Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
12 of 28

@Teddi B wrote:

Thanks Jess. I always thought the same thing--the copyright belongs to the designer unless assigned to the client. Last night I discovered that Upwork was assigning the client ownership. I'm surprised that Petra said that I was putting myself at a "competetive disadvantage compared with other freelancers who do not impose conditions that differ from Upwork's."

 

My terms and conditions are set up so that the client and myself have an understanding of the scope of the project and what we expect from each other. It's to prevent any misunderstanding down the road.


I'm sure what Petra meant, and I agree, is that if you present every client with an additional agreement to the standard Upwork contract, they may find that off putting and prefer to work with freelancers who don't attach any strings. And a moderator will have to answer this specifically, but I don't think any side agreement that overrules Upwork's terms of service is going to be binding on a client in any way - when you use this site, you agree to the ToS, period.

Ace Contributor
Teddi B Member Since: Aug 2, 2015
13 of 28

I don't attach "strings" to my terms and conditions. I want to protect myself and my client. I was surprised to learn that Upwork even addressed this matter in their TOS. I believe they are confusing “ownership” with “right to use.”

 

I don’t have a problem granting ownership when I can. If the work is mine—illustrations, photography, and typeface—I can grant ownership.

 

When I purchase (on behalf of the client) an image, typeface, or design element from iStock, Deposit Photo, Letterhead Fonts, etc. the license is transferable to the client. But the client doesn’t own it nor do I. The client is granted the right to use it according to the license agreement from iStock, Deposit Photo, Letterhead fonts, etc.

 

I have images, elements, and fonts, which I purchased for my library. They weren’t purchased for a specific job. I might use these elements multiple times on multiple projects, but I don’t own them, and I can’t transfer a license.

 

Some clients are misguided, thinking they own the design because they paid for it. They may own the design as a whole, but they don’t own the parts. If they request layered files because they’re the “owner” because Upwork said so, they now have access to elements that they don’t have a right to possess, re-use, share, or sell in any way shape or form.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
14 of 28

@Teddi B wrote:

 

 I'm surprised that Petra said that I was putting myself at a "competetive disadvantage compared with other freelancers who do not impose conditions that differ from Upwork's."


 I think Petra is correct, but it shouldn't matter in the least. Your business model is your business model. Obviously, many clients will prefer outright ownership to a licensing agreement they have to understand and remember to abide by. Many will also prefer to ensure that they have perpetual, exclusive rights to the work. 

 

The fact that your standard arrangement outside of Upwork is something different than that shows that there are also many clients who are happy to work on a licensing basis. Those clients are your market.

 

 

Community Guru
Daniel P Member Since: Aug 15, 2014
15 of 28
Based on what Vlad had said, it sounds as though any private contract overrides Upwork's "default" contract, in the sense that if the client doesn't sign a personal/private contract that the freelancer provided, then they're assumed to have agreed to the terms and condition laid out in Upwork's contract.
Ace Contributor
Teddi B Member Since: Aug 2, 2015
16 of 28

Thanks Daniel.

Active Member
Erica M Member Since: May 12, 2016
17 of 28

Good discussion! Thanks for asking about this, Teddi!

Ace Contributor
Teddi B Member Since: Aug 2, 2015
18 of 28

Thanks Erica.

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
19 of 28

I'm interested in this issue too. I have no problem with the client owning the work that I've done for them, but I've seen project descriptions a number of times in which a client says that they expect to own all images, fonts, artwork etc. used in their project after it's finished. It's simply not possible to grant this request. For example, I've had clients ask me to send original jpgs of stock photos that I've used in a PowerPoint presentation, so that they can re-use them on their website or whatever, and they seem put out when I tell them that they have to purchase the photos themselves. Is there anything on Upwork to address this? 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
20 of 28

re: "Is there anything on Upwork to address this?"

 

No.

 

This is between you and the client.

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