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  1. #1
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    Who owns my portfolio?

    Where do the "moral rights of the creator" end and "we're the company, we own you!" begin?

    The company I work for recently got asked by a client to stop people posting pics of a big project on Facebook.

    I've always adhered to what I thought was common sense when it comes to posting stuff I've worked on online - 1: Wait until it's out the door and open to the public, and 2: be as vague as possible in describing what it is so it doesn't top any Google searches except the ones I want it to (I'm building a portfolio, not a fansite).

    But does anyone know what the legalness of it all is? Can I post stuff to show what I've done? Or is that a privilege, rather than a right?

    (I'm in the UK, but international input is welcome )


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  3. #2
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    You might have to clarify what's going on. I could be having a brain fart but it sounds like the company you work for (I'm guessing they do some art related stuff) posted the images they produced for a client online. That right?

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    Sorry - no, the client asked the company to stop people who work for the company posting pics of stuff they were working on (some very cool stuff btw) on facebook.

    But that's secondary really - It's just the thing that got me thinking about this. I don't use facebook (social) as a portfolio. I do post stuff online though. And I'm interested what the overall legal situation is - with owning copyrights/some rights/no rights.

    I know I can't sell knock-off castings etc, but posting work-in-progress images in a creator portfolio page? I'm fuzzy on that one

  5. #4
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    That information should be in your and the company's NDA. Whatever you signed is what the legal situation is. If you didn't sign anything..then you can technically do anything you want. But propriety would say you should probably wait for the product to be out before posting involvement.

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    I'd say that it depends on what you've signed in your contract. If it states anything like this in the contract, that you don't own any of the art from first line to final touch, then you can't post it online without the company giving you the green light.

    On the other hand, if there isn't anything like this in your contract then you can do anything you want, and maybe you should.

    I know the previous phrase might seem a little extreme but hey, in a time and age when people have their life blood squeezed out of them so exec's can make millions, not giving them the shaft when you can because you are being 'nice' or 'professional' is just stupid. They keep you to your contract, you keep them to theirs.

    But yea, check your contract. Also, you can do something else, you can develop concepts at home, that haven't been developed in the company. If they like them when you show the stuff, you can still post it, cause it's not theirs, the final you develop at work may be theirs but not the WIP if you made it at home.

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  7. #6
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    Oh ok - so your rights are *limited* purely by whatever contract you've signed? That makes sense.

    EDIT - sneaky post there - I'm still freelance as well as employed - so any work I do at home is for that other company (ie: me). And TBH, I didn't spot anything like that in there - which is part of why I was wondering about this (although it was all vague as fuck ).
    Last edited by MikeMakesMonkeys; March 8th, 2010 at 05:34 PM.

  8. #7
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    My understanding of this is based around graphic design, but I'm pretty sure the same goes for illustrators and other creative professionals.

    In Norway, you are entitled to having your name on any creative work by law, and this right is non-transferable meaning that if you created it, you have the right for your name to be attached, period. However, it is naturally very rarely practiced like that (no client in their right mind will agree to a contract that states that they have to put someone's name in their printed material). However, you generally work it out by putting a clause in your contracts, stating that any work that you do that is used by the client can be used by you to market yourself. Again, here it is common to specify in which way, f.ex that you can only use material in the form it was published, you can't include the work in it's entirety and the work can only be posted on the domain you specify in the contract... like, if you designed a brochure for a car-dealer, you only use the cover and two spreads in your personal online portfolio, along with a link to your client's website. You also describe your input, for example:

    Client Name, 2010

    Consumer brochure, direct mail, 12 pages, full color

    Art-direction, copywriting and photography

    http://www.yourclientswebsite.com


    If you work for an agency full time, you are bound by the terms of your employment contract, which means that they likely won't credit you specifically in their portfolio. If you leave a company, atleast in Norway, you can ask that your name is listed on work you were part of while working there, unless the contrary is specifically stated in your contract (f.ex "work done while employed at Firm is the intellectual property of Firm and it's clients, as an emplyee of Firm you agree to not be named specifically for creative work done while under contract with Firm and it's clients unless specifically noted"). If that is the case, you *could* (not saying that it necessarily looks too good) always just state that "While Firm I worked on projects for Namesofclients. That work can be seen at their website, here: http://www.previousemployer.com" in your personal portfolio or somewhere else on your website, but be sure to specify what your input on such projects were to avoid claiming credit for others' work, otherwise you might end up doing more harmt han good to your reputation.

    Basically, the contracts define in which ways you can use work you do for clients to promote yourself, it defines in which form and which forums the work can be posted. That likely means that your employer has a contract with the client stating that the work will only be used for self-promotion in finished form, on their own website. Therefore the work posted on Facebook by unknowing employees is in breach of that contract and the client can demand it be removed.

    -Kim
    Last edited by kab; March 8th, 2010 at 06:31 PM.

  9. #8
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    I´ve got a related question...

    What if an artist wants to use NDA works that he´s done for a company on his portfolio, not an online and public portfolio, but a specific portfolio sent to another company?

    It seems to be the same case, but a portfolio sent specifically to a company is, supposedly, confidential.

  10. #9
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    Again, I'm coming from a graphic design viewpoint, so the illustration-practices might be a bit different. However, I think this comes down to the fact that NDAs are in place to protect your former employer and their client and what is essentially their intellectual property (which they paid you for, and you signed away rights to). Therefore I'm guessing that it would very likely be a severe breach of contract, both the terms of your former employment contract and your former employer's contract with their client, and it would likely open you up to a range of legal action, not to mention that a prospective employer would not be impressed by you using work that you've signed a contract explicitly stating that it is not to be shown to anyone outside your former employer, and applying for a new job with it.

    You take a piece of NDA protected work and put it in a portfolio, you are taking work that by contract belongs to a client, of which you likely have signed away any rights for publication, self-promotion etc., and notably a piece of work that you only got to do because you were employed at your former job, and got paid for. And you are using it to get a job at another company. That's pretty much theft and it's the reason why there are contracts.

    It would be like if an engineer at Ferrari worked at their Formula One divison, on let's say fuel-saving technology for internal-combustion engines, all his research and development would be funded by Ferrari, and he would be working with technology that only a select few got access to. He would have signed away his patent-rights to the company, and he would have signed a contract stating that all work done while employed by Ferrari was Ferrari's property. Now, your guy gets fired, or he quits, and he leaves his patents behind, however, he wants to get a job at BMW's F1 team, so he takes a bunch of the blueprints for his work at Ferrari and sends them to BMW, applyting for a job there. It's industrial espionage, it is illegal and if you get caught, you're screwed, pretty much what happened to Maclaren in F1 a few years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Fo...ge_controversy

    Also, consider the possibility that the guys you are showing that work to recognize it from somewhere, most industries are frightingly small so gambling on that wouldn't be wise, and realize that it is under an NDA. First of all you won't be getting a job. Second, they would likely get on the phone and find out who you worked for (or just check your application for former employers) and bang, you would have a situation on your hands.

    I guess though that it again comes down to your contract, if you are allowed to use work done at a company for self-promotion or not. Most likely though, you're not, and especially not work that is under Non-Disclosure. I would guess you'd be better off using personal/self-employed work and instead list the titles or projects you worked on previously or mentioning them in an interview, just say f.ex "while I worked at *company* I worked on the *game* doing concepts and character-design, however, all of that work is still under NDA".

    Also: a portfolio sent to a company might not be intended for public viewing, but it's still a reproduction of the work.
    Last edited by kab; March 9th, 2010 at 02:06 AM.

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  12. #10
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    So... it's rather pointless stating that a portfolio sent to a company is confidential.

    Thanks for the answer. The F1 example makes it very clear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sady View Post
    I´ve got a related question...

    What if an artist wants to use NDA works that he´s done for a company on his portfolio, not an online and public portfolio, but a specific portfolio sent to another company?

    It seems to be the same case, but a portfolio sent specifically to a company is, supposedly, confidential.
    Since one of the main rationales for NDAs is to keep a company's competitors from finding out about projects before they are made public, this could open you up to heaps of trouble.

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  14. #12
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    Should be OK for finished projects where the intellectual property no longer poses a threat. Unless even if it's over that works contains process information or company proven process or procedure that are advantageous to the company.

    OR

    It's OK to show whatever's exposed freely to the public from the project at any given time.

    A company has the right to withold anything you do even if you leave the company. Whatever you did there is company property. If you leave the band your music stays the property of the band. Good contracts.
    ----------------------------------
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  15. #13
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    Well, actually, I'm pretty sure that in most cases, if you leave a band and you wrote some of the material, you still own that material and can perform it, record it, pretty much do whatever you want with it, and still gain royalties from the usage of your material by your former band-mates. There is a reason songwriting credits are always noted, the more creative input, the more money gained from record sales. Which is why Paul and John (that is, Yoko) have more money than Ringo, and why Roger Waters could make millions playing Pink Floyd material on his solo-tours.

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    Generally what you are describing is a condition where it is a "work for hire" so the client technically owns the bundle of rights since they paid for the work. You may not be able to post the images to the web but you can keep them in a physical portfolio which you can show to prospective clients or employers.

    Most NDA's cover the "work for hire" issues so go through what you have signed when you become employed.

  17. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BySilent View Post
    Generally what you are describing is a condition where it is a "work for hire" so the client technically owns the bundle of rights since they paid for the work. You may not be able to post the images to the web but you can keep them in a physical portfolio which you can show to prospective clients or employers.

    Most NDA's cover the "work for hire" issues so go through what you have signed when you become employed.
    Yes, that sounds about right. In my case the company was doing work-for-hire for the client and a NDA did exist. The problem was, they didn't tell the monkeys.

    Right - looks like I'm taking a camera and tripod down round London next week

  18. #16
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    In my case the company was doing work-for-hire for the client and a NDA did exist. The problem was, they didn't tell the monkeys.
    This is why I never show any client work at all until it's been published or released to the public in some form. Just to be on the safe side. You never know what all the legal ramifications are...

    (And the more people and departments and companies are involved, the more convoluted it gets.)

    You should be able to legally post work-for-hire work on the web if it's absolutely clear that it's for "informational purposes" only - for instance, if you show it in an online portfolio. Assuming the piece is already published, the only time you can't use it for informational purposes is if you've signed anything that specifically says you can't post it anywhere. Even so, the client may ask you to remove work from an online portfolio, and if they do it may be best to comply and remove the piece, though you're not legally obligated to do so...
    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; March 12th, 2010 at 07:01 PM.

  19. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I never show any client work at all until it's been published or released to the public in some form.
    QFT +1

    I ain't posting nuffin' recent til I have my own public domain pics of it.

  20. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    This is why I never show any client work at all until it's been published or released to the public in some form. Just to be on the safe side. You never know what all the legal ramifications are...

    (And the more people and departments and companies are involved, the more convoluted it gets.)

    You should be able to legally post work-for-hire work on the web if it's absolutely clear that it's for "informational purposes" only - for instance, if you show it in an online portfolio. Assuming the piece is already published, the only time you can't use it for informational purposes is if you've signed anything that specifically says you can't post it anywhere. Even so, the client may ask you to remove work from an online portfolio, and if they do it may be best to comply and remove the piece, though you're not legally obligated to do so...
    While you might not technically HAVE to remove it if it is not touched upon in the contract, putting in specified terms for using it for self-promotion etc. helps you avoid situations where you end up publishing something that your client wants removed. It is more professional and a hell of a lot better for further business. =) Keep your client happy or else they won't be your client for much longer.

  21. #19
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    If its for games, most companies will allow you use of the work in your portfolio if you ask. They wil probably stipulate the product has to be released or cancelled first to protect their property, but I always ask and make sure its part of the contract before I start a project.

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