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I've been approached by a new client because they are unsatisfied with the logo that was done for them. However, they want to keep the colors and the design... My guess is the problem is in the execution more than in the elements of the image itself and it would be a quick job, fixing the type, kerning, tweaking colors, etc.

However, I am concerned that simply reproducing someone else's work to make it look better might cause copyright issues. Obviously, the client has paid for the logo but does the author retain some copyright and could I get in trouble by undertaking this project?

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I believe you would fall under the "work-for-hire" clause and regardless of the ownership, you are hired by them to do the work so therefore any infringement (if any) fall upon them. –  Phlume Jun 17 at 16:22
    
If they own the work (meaning they paid for it) then you're OK. If they haven't paid for it, then no. –  DA01 Jun 17 at 16:59

3 Answers 3

If the client has done it right - they are an owner of the work. The author still has the rights of authorship (don't know how to translate it correctly).

In any case, if you even rework and fix stolen work - there should be no issues for you - you DON'T use the original work.

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+1 it'd be a very unusual contract that didn't grant a client ownership of their own logo, I've never heard of a designer "leasing" a company its branding! –  user568458 Jun 17 at 15:28
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@user568458: Some works are produced payable on acceptance; if the client likes the work, the artist gets paid and the client gets the rights. If not, the artist keeps the rights. If the company rejected the work but then hired someone else to make it better, the artist could sue the company but a third-party artist acting in good faith shouldn't be liable. –  supercat Jun 17 at 16:15
    
@supercat good point, but if the company is using the logo right now, they can be sued for that same as editing it. So Emilie should check if they're using the flawed existing logo, and if they aren't, check that they did actually buy the rights to it. –  user568458 Jun 17 at 16:21

I don't think you are in any danger of copyright infringement. The company should hold the rights to their own logo and brand.

However, as a designer I am asked to, and do this, from time to time. If a company isn't going to do a complete rebrand but wants to freshen up their image, I think it's ok to go back and tweak a logo and update it.

That said, I hate when other people touch/steal my stuff, but ultimately the company owns the art after we sell it to them. They may not own the original files but the logo is theirs to screw up as much as they wish.

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I'm also in Canada, if that adds anything! –  GoofyMonkey Jun 17 at 13:13

It is totally fine for you to modify the logo the company owns as long as they are the legit owners.

You will not fall under infringement on copyright unless you use it for different company by just changing the text but the symbol/artwork in it. Look at this case

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