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Thread: Copyright.

  1. #1
    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Copyright.

    I was just wondering if anyone had an experience with copyright laws (specifically UK, but I think there is little difference worldwide). If a client pays a company to design and build a website for them, who owns the copyright, the company that did the work, the individual employees or the client that paid for it?
    I know with photography if a client commisions a photo (unless they sign a release) the copyright belongs to the client and not the photographer or model so I was wondering if the same applies to websites, does the ownership pass to the client since the client commisioned the work and paid for it.

    Basically my ex-boss is trying to get my to take down my online portfolio since everything on it I did while I was 'semi- employed' by his company. He claims they 'own' everything on my portfolio and that I cant use it. (which is complete crap, I already spoke to a lawyer about it, I worked full time+ for 5 months on a temporary basis for the company and never signed any confidentiality agreement) I noticed that they put their copyright sign on every site whereas the company I currently work for but the copyright sign to the client not themselves.

    If he wants to get all legal about it I'm fully prepared to go to court over the matter but I thought if the clients are the legal owners of the site then I might as well just contact them and get their consent to use them in my portfolio - I dont see any of them complaining - its free advertising.

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    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    I think under national law the work is the copyright of the person who has paid for the work to be done. If so, clients wouldn't be able to display "copyright of *clients company* MMV or whatever.

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    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weazel
    I think under national law the work is the copyright of the person who has paid for the work to be done. If so, clients wouldn't be able to display "copyright of *clients company* MMV or whatever.
    If the copyright belongs to the person who paid for the work to be done (the client) then why wouldnt the client be about to display 'copyright clients company' ?

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    If your previous company puts their copyright on companies' sites that hire them to make websites for them, and they don't allow the client to mark it with their copyright, then they are not respectable. If I was the client, I would be furious.

    They have copyright to the websites. They don't have copyright to your website that has a hyperlink to their website. They can't prevent you from listing what you have worked on (without a confidentiality agreement prior signed). As long as you don't make screen shots of the client websites and include that in your site, you should be OK. List them, link to them, state that you designed them.

    What jerks.
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    Senior Coder missing-score's Avatar
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    Yeah, I agree... While they most likley own copyright to the work that has been done, they cannot prevent you linking to it from your website unless an agreement has been signed. Thats just bad if they are expecting you to take down things from your portfolio.

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    Senior Coder NancyJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrhodes
    If your previous company puts their copyright on companies' sites that hire them to make websites for them, and they don't allow the client to mark it with their copyright, then they are not respectable. If I was the client, I would be furious.

    They have copyright to the websites. They don't have copyright to your website that has a hyperlink to their website. They can't prevent you from listing what you have worked on (without a confidentiality agreement prior signed). As long as you don't make screen shots of the client websites and include that in your site, you should be OK. List them, link to them, state that you designed them.

    What jerks.
    I spoke to my dad again and they cant prevent me from using screeenshots either since the work is publically available on the web and I did take the screenshots while I was employed by the company, I took them at home from my own PC bygoing to the website. I also dont remember signing anything that handed over copyright to his company of any work that I did, according to my dad he'd have a hard time proving that he owned the copyright anyway since none of the work was his idea and he didnt do any of it.

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    If you did the work as "work-for-hire" then the client generally owns all copyrights after payment is settled. If you worked for a web company part time as an independent contractor, they would own your work after they paid you and their clients would own the work after they paid the company.

    That is, generally...usually it's best to have all this in writing somewhere. The best thing I've found to add to my contracts is a clause saying that I reserve the right to use material I've worked on in portfolios and resumes, including all graphics and logos.

    Anyhoo, you'd probably win in court, but what a pain in the *** these guys are.

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    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NancyJ
    If the copyright belongs to the person who paid for the work to be done (the client) then why wouldnt the client be about to display 'copyright clients company' ?
    Sorry...what I mean is:

    If the client pays for the work to be done by a designer, then I think they have the copyright. If they didn't have the copyright, they wouldn't be able to display "website and all contents is copyright of *company name*"

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    Master Coder felgall's Avatar
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    In general the person who does the work owns the copyright unless there is a contract that states otherwise.

    A person working for a company will have an employment contract that grants the copyright to the company.

    If you pay a company to produce something for you you need to make sure that the contract specifies who owns the copyright in what. Most contracts cover this information and it would normally depend on the price being paid and whether the company expected to be able to reuse the developed code.
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    Senior Coder missing-score's Avatar
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    Surely though, if the person who does the work owns the copyright, then after designing a site for someone, you could force it to be removed (as you own the copyright)?

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    Senior Coder JamieR's Avatar
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    We seem to have different ideas here - does anyone know of any actual law documents stating who owns the copyright? Hazel has already stated that she has consulted a lawyer.

    IMO, it's extremley bad if the client doesn't receive the copyright for the work that they have paid a lot of money for. The company are merely providing a service of which the clients requirements are met and then the work is paid for so sureley the client must own the copyright seeing as they have paid for it.

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    According to most places I've looked since this post was made, It should be stated in the contract - in cases where it is not, copyright for original works lies with the client for whom the design/graphic/whatever was created.

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    Interesting that this is just the point at which I am at too.

    We seem to have different ideas here - does anyone know of any actual law documents stating who owns the copyright?
    copyright is the Intellectual Property of the author, full stop/period.

    What I have been told by my specialist IP solicitor is that the copyright is mine unless I sign it over to someone, something which, he says, I'd be mad to do.

    Never sign over your copyright or you'll become the proverbial 'pigs back'.

    As for your specific case Nancy, it would be wrong of me to suggest that I know but, if you were employed by the company to do the work then you are effectively, their property during the hours they employ you.

    You should seek advice as it's an area where poeple are exploited every day, without realising it. My guy is expensive so I can't just ring him up for an answer for you.

    I'm in the UK.

    Bazz
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    Master Coder felgall's Avatar
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    Copyright belongs to the AUTHOR unless they assign it to someone else.

    If you get a web site (or anything else) created for you then you need a CONTRACT that assigns the copyright to you as part of what you are paying for.
    Stephen
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    I think you're over cooking this, what presumably is not in dispute is who designed the website originally, that's all this person wants to be able to say surely? link to it and perhaps use a screenshot?

    And to try and restrict the use of a freely and publicly available website is nonsense surely

    Tell them to do one, I can't even see it getting to court, where is a law being broken?


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