So I recently discovered my once loyal client had started using services of a very cheap designer, I'm talking rock bottom can't get any cheaper if you were desperate for work pricing. I found out after getting an email with the event flyer attached advertising the event to the public.
What made me mad was they had given the designer my most recent flyer design I designed for them to copy and create a new event flyer design by just changing the front image whilst the look & feel, typography, style is the same. The back of the flyer is completely identical with just the text changed. I believe it is a copyright issue? Should I contact the (possible ex client) and state that what they have done is wrong?
They never asked me for permission nor did I give them rights to regurgitate my work.
Tread carefully and take a few deep breaths. It's an awful, horrible feeling to see your work copied and know that you're going to be pretty emotional. Emotion and redressing copyright issues is not a good mix!
When I had my work ripped off, I tried to approach the issue in as open a manner as I could. I emailed the copyright infringer with a friendly tone, letting them know that I held copyright on the artwork they'd reproduced and that I understood that they'd likely not realised that before making their copy. I then requested that we have a chance to talk about negotiating what the licensing terms could be (in my case I was hoping for an ongoing agreement as it was a traffic symbol that was likely to be used in many different places).
In your case, your client may love your creative work but may want a cheaper alternative for smaller. more iterative jobs. Perhaps you can still retain the creative work but accept you won't see the smaller jobs. Or maybe you can negotiate a special rate for the smaller jobs in order to keep all of your client's business. Remember that you client does like your work (they've reused it after all) but obviously price is a consideration for them, so approach negotiations in that spirit.
In my case the other party declined an ongoing agreement, but did eventually pay a one off licensing fee. They were also extremely unpleasant, rude and demeaning in all their correspondance. I remained professional, but do be prepared for the other party to act miserably and make sure you have some moral support by your side.
I'd need more information to make a decision. Was the other designer taking credit for your flyer?
It sound like you've pretty much given them a template and you have in fact given them permission to make changes to it. That being the case (if I've understood correctly) it's up to them how they change or who changes the template. I wouldn't call finding a cheaper option to change an image and text in a template going behind your back and that sort of work really only deserves rock bottom prices.
Hi Cheli, thank you for you response. I have had a look at the copyright website and a few others, it does state that we do hold automatic copyright to our works unless we state via contract that the client has rights to the use of the work.
When I spoke to my client yesterday they did mention to have a meeting to discuss budgets etc, but I still have not had a meeting scheduled. Think I will shoot through an email and set it up myself. Just have a feeling I was being buttered up during the call to avoid grievance.
You mentioned 'Perhaps you can still retain the creative work' in what way do you mean? The outcome I'm hoping for is they honour my words and stop getting the other designer to copy my designs to cut corners and have the cheap designer to create from scratch.
Hi Pscysm, I did not give my client a template or permission to get someone else to regurgitate my design. The flyer design was for an event, the latest flyer they had basically copied the whole look and feel of my flyer concept, right down to the graphic elements used, starburst, fonts, typography etc to create a different flyer for a new event.
Ah I re-read and understand, I was confused by this:
::most recent flyer design I designed for them to copy and create a new event flyer design by just changing the front image whilst the look & feel, typography, style is the same.::
To be honest - I probably have a different view to you because I'm digital - this seems a bit like someone paying someone for a website design and build, then hiring someone cheaper to do the content updates.
It's tricky one, did you give them source files or are they photoshopping flat files? Could they have assumed that they owned the file so they can do as they wish with it? I guess what you do depends on a few factors, whether they made an honest mistake or not, whether you communicated the design rights clearly or not, how widely distributed the flyer is, how much the client is worth to you, if it's worth the effort chasing it or just dumping them.
Sorry for the confusion, no source files were given to the client. They have obviously used the hi-res pdf to take off elements and match fonts. It definitely was not to be used as a template to spin off other designs either.
::Could they have assumed that they owned the file so they can do as they wish with it? I guess what you do depends on a few factors, whether they made an honest mistake or not, whether you communicated the design rights clearly or not, how widely distributed the flyer is, how much the client is worth to you, if it's worth the effort chasing it or just dumping them.::
Its pretty obvious that it is all about the money and how cheap they can get it done for. Seems to me they thought they could take my design and treat it as a template for the cheap designer use and save costs on design. Not happy.
A leading copyright lawyer once gave me some good advice albeit not legal jargin: 'follow the money'.
If you have done work for them and they have paid you for it, usually they will then own the copyright for that design (unless you have your own terms that say otherwise). Otherwise, if you sell Client X a flyer design, what's stopping you sending the same design to Client Y? As designers we sell our designs and their rights to our clients. That's our wares.
I'm probably with Trex on this. I would also presume it was an honest mistake by the client thinking they were allowed to do it more than anything else. And so long as the other designer isn't claiming it's their work on their website or portfolio, I'd move on and look at what new work I could gain from said client. And if they request another event flyer design, I'd ask them if they wanted to buy a one off design, or one they could repurpose for future events. That way you do mention the issue, but in a way that's offering them options/solution.