Client trying to copyright BGs in animations
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  1. #1
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    Client trying to copyright BGs in animations

    My brother is a freelance motion designer and ran across this issue. With his permission, I'm posting it here to see if anyone has some insight on this, advice, or how to proceed:

    I am building out HTML 5 animations for amVoIP app. I am creating over 10 unique characters featured in about 70 animations. In the initial T&Cs, I specified that they would have a buyout which includes the creative licenses to the 10 unique characters. The wording was as such -"DESIGNER will assign the reproduction rights of the design for the use(s) described in the proposal.Upon full and final payment delivery, unique characters created for the project become the property of the CLIENT.."

    The client wanted to edit the T&Cs to "DESIGNER will assign, without limitation, all intellectual property rights of the design to the CLIENT."

    My concern is the backgrounds created for these animations are very generic (skies are just gradients, sun, trees, hills, are all created very basically). First I do not see how they can copyright such generic renditions, and secondly I didn't want to have to worry about drawing these items differently for future projects just because they feel they have the creative license of these backgrounds. I reiterated these points to them and this was their response, "our legal dept feels we can and should be covering those generic backgrounds you're creating and want to make sure they are included in the creative license."

    -I know it's long but thanks for reading and any input you may have. He can't really show examples because of NDA's.

    Last edited by browntear; August 23rd, 2012 at 02:45 PM. Reason: Typos
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    I'd be worried about why they want to change it like that, especially since it means that it becomes their intellectual property if they pay you the final payment or not.
    (it wasn't clear from the text if they wanted to change also that but it sounds like that)

    If the backgrounds are generic there is no reason to copyright them.(and I'm not a copyright lawyer but I'm pretty sure you can't copyright an idea already made in a thousand other projects).

    Overall your Client's reason for copyrighting stuff should be to have the right to reproduce it and prevent it from being ripped off by a competition.
    If you want them to have it covered just give them unlimited license to use and reproduce said backgrounds(without copyright). That should be good enough for them.

    The other solution is to put extra work to add some unique touch to the backgrounds.

    Hope this helps.

    I was just using basic logic for this and the knowing that there are bad clients out there.

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  4. #3
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    Transfer of all rights usually involves the artist gets better paid.
    What was arranged here?

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    If they signed a contract they can't force the change.

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    Signatures by -both- parties are indeed binding.

    However, if the small print contains provisions to the contract
    allowing changes to be made and it was signed with said provisions
    intact, then refusing their changes could actually see your brother in
    breach of contract. (That's why it is important to understand the
    provisions contained in the contract.) Such agreements do exist.
    Any agreement can be bound within a contract once signed
    so long as it falls within legal parameters.

    It is difficult to respond to this without seeing the actual contract.

    Last edited by Star Eater; August 23rd, 2012 at 07:18 PM.
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    Eh, if they're that generic who cares? Sounds like they couldn't have been too difficult to make once and probably no big deal to re-use anyway. Lawyers just like to own as much as they can. Sounds like their wording isn't really that different in scope from your brothers, it just sounds a bit scarier but he was signing over rights to it anyway.

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    Just wanted to say thanks for all the responses. My brother started leaning toward it not being a huge deal, and LightandDark and especially JeffX99's responses confirm this.

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