The Official Kunvay Blog

Learn how to navigate copyright and intellectual property ownership smartly so you own your work, and own your future.

What Happens When a Freelancer Does Graphic Design Work for a Client Without a Contract: Mark’s Copyright Case Study

Photo Credit: No Contract by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: No Contract by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Mark is a self employed graphic artist.

He routinely works with clients on an independent contractor basis.

Mark decided to work on a particular client’s project without a written agreement or contract stating the terms of the association.

The client later refused to pay Mark for his work.

The client then began to freely use Mark’s work claiming (1) there was no written or verbal contract for services and no “course of dealing understanding” between them and (2) and that based on the lack of any formal agreement Mark retained no copyright ownership interest or rights in the work he contributed to the project.

Mark feels the client not only ripped off his creative input and artwork but he seems to have been able to misappropriate the copyright interest in his work. Mark has proof his client is using his artwork.

Is there anything Mark can do? You bet there is!

Valid Transfer of Copyright Ownership

Let’s assume that Mark has a valid copyright in his own artwork even when he has produced the work under a client’s requests and directions. Can the client claim ownership of Mark’s copyright in the work? Continue reading

What Every Creative & Ad Agency Outsourcing Work to Freelancers Needs to Know About Copyright

Photo Credit: Mojave wins Creative Agency Awards 09 by Mojave Interactive used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Mojave wins Creative Agency Awards 09 by Mojave Interactive used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Creative agencies are increasingly shrinking the number of in-house or staff creatives and opting to rely on freelancers to perform a multitude of tasks from pitching ideas to sustaining an advertising campaign.

The sluggish economy has stressed many agencies causing those employers to suffer difficulties in covering the cost of maintaining staff employees.

It costs a lot these days to maintain a regular employee on staff (payroll taxes, healthcare, insurance, etc.).

Outsourcing of Freelance Work on the Rise

Some employers hoping to pinch a few nickels have turned to hiring freelancers and specifically designating them workers under agreement or “independent contractors” to function as part-time, intermittent and offsite workers that in truth provide the majority of the agency’s day to day creative needs.

Unfortunately, these employers wrongly conclude that simply claiming an employee is an independent contractor even if he is supplying regular, ongoing and predictable company tasks will relieve an employer of his responsibilities to State and federal taxation authorities.

It will not, and worse, this action could be considered intentional tax fraud.

If they could only see and hear the state and federal agency tax-collecting accountants slowly pursing their lemon-sucking lips into a shape that only slightly resembles a smile. “Penny wise and pound foolish,” they’d sneer in response, “Do these people think we were born yesterday on what? Audit that company.”

Copyright Ownership & Transfer, Employees and Independent Contractors

And if navigating the many potholes and ditches of payroll doesn’t provide enough points of interest for unwary management there is always the very dicey issue of copyright Continue reading

Is Copyright the New Black?

Photo Credit: Copyright Symbols by MikeBlogs used under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Copyright Symbols by MikeBlogs used under CC BY 2.0

There’s something special about the color black.

In the fashion world, it’s come to enjoy a sort of legendary status, expressing an authentic mix of poise and practicality that’s completely essential for every wardrobe.

Could it be that copyright, the supposed refuge for creators and authors, has also achieved similar status?

It’s an issue well worth addressing. In today’s technology-driven era of ubiquity and proliferation, our airwaves are ever awash in torrential downpours of information.

The combination of capable hardware and widespread social networking makes it convenient, entertaining and even rewarding to select and share, share, share. Herein, lies the crux of our issue.

Transcending the Copycat Norm

The non-commercial copying and pasting, digitizing and downloading, forwarding and freely sharing considered so normal these days often leaves one key player completely out of the loop: the original creator, not to mention her compensation and credit.

This means creative work is routinely shared illegally, and our culture simply accepts it.

The protection of originality in creation lies at the heart of copyright law – mostly so that artists, writers and other creators can keep Continue reading