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Responsibility as a designer for employer using licensed photos?

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Active Member
Marija S Member Since: Jul 23, 2016
1 of 24

Hi Smiley Happy) I have a dillema regarding the usage of photography which is not surely royalty free. My question is are we (the designers) responsible for the employers who asks us to modify and edit licensed photos and should we at all edit this photos or the employers carry all the responsibily if we don't use the photos for ourself or publish them anywhere?

 

An answer would be really appreciated, I'm thinking about this problem for a while now.

Thanks Smiley Happy

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Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
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2 of 24

If your client (you're not their employee, you're a freelancer) purchased the stock photo, then it's perfectly fine for you to make any revisions requested by the client.

 

The client is responsible for any licensing uses attached to the photo they purchased. And it may very well be a royalty-free image.

 

Does that answer your question?

View solution in original post

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Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
3 of 24

Every work that you do and for which you were paid belongs to the client. If they are not allowed to have it or to publish it because by doing this they deliberately infringe someone else's copyrights, they may be sued.

 

As long as you don't publish the work yourself, which includes publishing it in your portfolio, you're not liable.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
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Marija S Member Since: Jul 23, 2016
4 of 24

Thanks Rene, all clear now Smiley Happy

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Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
5 of 24

It does happen though, that you can take on work in good faith, and when you get into it, you realize that it is a copy/ paste of someone else's.

 

This has happened to me, and I reneged on the job. The client wanted a book 'they had written ' to be edited. Fine. Then I realized the client had copy/pasted a book that was out-of- print. If the client had said, I would like to update and republish this book in the original author's name, I might have done a little research on it, but I probably wouldn't have had a problem with it. But it is still plagiarism of the worst kind if you copy/paste someone else's work  and claim it as your own. I wanted nothing to do with it.

 

Just to be clear - this has nothing to do with writing for hire or ghostwriting.

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Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
6 of 24

You're not personally liable, but it's still WRONG if you know that the client does not have the rights to the photo. I've had this come up a couple of times, and each time I was able to find a legally available replacement photo and steer the client towards doing the right thing. That's also part of your job as a designer - to help your client understand and follow industry standards and best practices.

Personally, if my client insisted on using an image they did not have rights for, and turned down a reasonable substitute or refused to see the problem, I would end the contract then and there. It's theft, and I refuse to enable stealing from other artists, even if I'm not held individually responsible.

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Active Member
Marija S Member Since: Jul 23, 2016
7 of 24

Hi Jess,

 

I totally agree with you, it's a part of the reason I'm on the forum and asking the question. In my case I'm not sure if the client has rights for the photo (but the chances are that he has). I asked him about it and mentioned he should do that before even thinking to start the job, but I'm just asking in case I don't notice or am not being told the truth, sometimes. 

I'm a designer in first place and do value my work as the one of other designers. I know the value of it and appreciate the right that we have to protect our work and would never intentionally  abuse that.

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Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
8 of 24

Maria, I was responding mainly to Rene, who focused solely on the possible legal ramifications and not to the ethical question. I always think it's important to spell out the ethics on questions like this since the forum is public and searchable, so while your issue may be solved, when others search for the same kind of thing they'll see the full spectrum of what needs to be considered. :-) Cheers!

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

Upwork provides a robust, helpful infrastructure for finding professional contractors to do work.

 

Upwork can not prevent all unethical work from being done.

 

Clients and contractors alike have a responsibility to act ethically.

 

Exactly what that means will be different for different people. There is nothing wrong with discussing a question like this in the Upwork Community Forum.

 

But keep in mind that there are ethical questions that can be discussed here which people may have different opinions about. Also, there are questions that can be discussed here but which can never actually be policed or effectively controlled by Upwork. There are arrangements which Upwork should not try to police or micro-manage. And there are arrangements that would be impossible to police or micro-manage because it would be impossible or unfeasible to do so from a technological/resource perspective.

 

Clients shouldn't be using photographs that they don't have the right to use. If a client hires a designer to use a photograph, provides the designer with the photograph, and asks the designer to use the photograph, that is an unethical act on the part of the client.

 

Questions about the designer's ethical obligations in a situation like this are interesting and worth discussing. But such situations are impossibe for Upwork itself to control. It would be inappropriate to expect Upwork itself to make specific policy statements regarding every possible situation and ethical question, beyond what it has already stated in its posted Terms of Service documents. (Not that anybody has asked for such.)

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Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
10 of 24

Preston, this isn't your field and you have little of use to say. Why are you (yet again) jumping to defend what Upwork is and isn't responsible for when that wasn't even part of the original question?

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