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Designed a print booklet for my client and I charge an hourly rate. I work for them freelance on an ongoing basis and they already paid that invoice. Next, they got the web designer to use the booklet design as the basis for their new website - in fact they took the PDF of the booklet and used it as inspo for a scrolling-style website. I don't do coding or web design, so I wasn't able to put it together for them, but because the web designer used my PDF and Indesign file to copy the branding, it would have cut hours off his work.

I feel that I should be charging an additional fee for my design being used on the website, even though I technically didn't put in the hours for it. The web designer required my design files in order to make the website. It's just a bit different to supplying a logo, the entire format of the booklet was copied. I was thinking a percentage amount off the original booklet invoice. Or, just an amount I think is "fair", which I have no idea what would be for this situation.

Just wanted to add this is a relatively small family business, always generous and never question things like payment/rates and I know they would be fully understanding, I just need to be professional about it and know how to charge for this kind of thing.

How much should I charge? Where would I get this amount from? How would I bring this up with the client?

  • Do you have any actual knowledge that using your PDF/INDD files saved the web designer a significant amount of time? Apart from getting branding colours right more easily and (presumably) not having to recreate some vector shapes/logos from scratch, a PDF and an InDesign file isn’t really all that useful for coding a website. All the code and by far the larger part of the layout in CSS is probably something he had to do himself, just the same as if he hadn’t had your files. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 3 '18 at 23:31
  • Did you have a contract which states the permitted use of your work/services? If you have no contract, it boils down to personal interaction and understanding and agreement. If you have no contract and wish to avoid this complication in the future, your work should always be preceded by a suitably worded contract regarding derivative work created from your efforts. – fred_dot_u Jul 4 '18 at 1:21
  • @JanusBahsJacquet He did the code and layout, but the website is basically a copy of my booklet, so I feel like I designed the aesthetic look of the website without getting paid. Not belittling the web designer's work, I get it's a lot, but no he would not have been able to do it without using my PDF and indesign file as a reference. They couldn't move forward without it. – Brandon Jul 4 '18 at 6:19
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    Hi Brandon, please do not delete the question. Members spent time responding to your issue and the purpose here is to keep an archive of questions. I just rolled it back for you. We only delete spam content. – Lucian Jul 4 '18 at 6:33
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    Can you add which country you are working in? (relevant for author's rights) – Emilie Jul 4 '18 at 15:01
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We don't know your relationship with this client, but I'm pretty sure you don't want it ruined because of an emotional reaction: 'oh that other guy is stealing my work and getting paid for it'.

The client, who is paying you for other type of work and apparently having a good relationship there, has told this programmer, look 'we want this website to look like the brochure I paid for, because obviously there's brand consistency and all that'. 'Our amazing designer cannot code, so its up to you as a coding person to reuse artwork we paid for and do what the designer cannot do'.

Certainly, this programmer person is just doing what he's being told.

One of my clients is doing the same: I did their branding, some brochures, some websites even. But their workload is so large and diverse, they always need other type of work (interior design, signage, even other brochures) which I simply cannot deliver technically or time-wise. And yeah, these other providers are reusing the artwork I made and got paid for.

So no, especially when you have a good relationship with a client and he is generous, you don't bring this up. If you do, the client may try to respond politely and discuss this, but he's also going to see a red flag.

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If it is yes or no, I am not so sure because I do not know 100% the situation. But as you describe it, my answer is no, you can not charge a plus.

What I would like to emphasize is that if you want to defend your position you are entering into a big old contradiction, very well know for all of us the designers and unfortunately very recurrent.

We have all passed, and I have also read some questions about it in GD.SE, when someone tell us - you're going to charge us for this, it's a drawing that even my son could have done! -

Yes, but he didn't do it, and the reason why it's because he has not the skill, nor the experience, nor the conceptual basis, nor the formal study to reach this result.

In your description you say:

I don't do coding or web design, so I wasn't able to put it together for them...

And a couple of paragraph later:

...The web designer got such an easy job and he's getting paid

If it was an easy job or not, is an speculation. But what is real is that he makes exactly the kind of job you are not able to do, and for which he has studied and for which he gets paid.

To me, wanting to charge under these terms is trying to justify yourself of not having been able to make the web-designer job.

There are times when we should know how to lead by example. You may not have the money you want for this intervention, but you will gain in believing in your profession by making it respect, just as others want their own respect too.

Edit after the comment.

I'm sorry Brandon and I insist, you are mixing many concepts, and I think is getting worse. The web designer is not coping or stealing your design. He would be copying the design that you have made if he use it for another company, but it is not the case.

He is just taking the design you make for your client just as your client give it to him to design the web. If one day your client decide to make toilette paper with a pattern of the design you made for him, he can do it. Will you pretend to get money from the paper company too?

If you feel that the web-designer is essentially stealing copying your design, have a talk with him, or put the things clear with your client. But any of those reasons To Me give you the right to get an extra paid.

By the way, if you knew that someone will freak out about some of the content at your question, why did you put them? When I wrote the answer I did it seriously and conscientiously, believing that every point written in your question it was also.

  • Yeah I knew people would freak out at the part where I said easy job, that was pretty predictable. The problem here is that he is still essentially copying my design, just putting it into web form, and that's a bit of an ethical pickle as I did design all of those things myself. As you said, you don't know the full situation, so to explain it better, the web designer is basically doing the coding back end, but copying my design work on the front end, so essentially I designed the aesthetic side of the website but aren't getting paid. – Brandon Jul 4 '18 at 6:13
  • answer update after the comment – Danielillo Jul 4 '18 at 7:22
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    @Brandon Try imagining a reversed situation. The company has a well-designed website with good branding and design guidelines, provided by a good web designer. They ask you to create a brochure for them which should follow the branding and design on their website. Would you expect that they would (or should) pay the web designer for this brochure as well? The two may seem different (a website is a more essential branding channel than a brochure, etc.), but really they’re quite similar. One has a design, the other follows it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 5 '18 at 20:34
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From my understanding, the web designer took parts of your design as is to build the website (correct me if I'm wrong) since you state that "he would not have been able to do it without using my PDF and indesign file as a reference. They couldn't move forward without it." So it was not merely inspired from your design.

Look into author or moral rights for your country. If the design was used as is and you did not explicitly cede or waive your rights in writing (i.e. what does your contract say?), you may have good reason to require payment.

The problem with this is that most clients are not educated in these matters and assume that something belongs to them completely (i.e. for any other use) so long as they have paid for it. You don't necessarily want to burn bridges with an otherwise good client so you'll need a lot of tact to resolve this.

Other issues that can stem from this is for example, if you have paid for licenses to do your initial booklet design (e.g. stock photos), these licenses usually don't extend to other uses (i.e. a website) and normally need to be bought again, even if it's the same photo. This could be a good starting point to have a difficult discussion. If they had any such licenses, I would tell the client they need to be bought again so they are protected. It makes you come across as a caring supplier and lays the table to make them understand the same goes for your work.

You will want to consider having this in writing in your future contracts. Even if your local law states that your rights are not automatically transferred upon payment, it helps to have a blurb about this in writing with the client so they know what they are getting into.

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The answer is that you should not charge for this as I'm presuming they bought your design, not a license for specific uses of the design (similar to a royalty-free as opposed to a rights managed photo). Many times I have sent web designers all of the 'assets' I have created for them to build the website from, or had assets supplied to me so I can continue work on an existing brand or project. Imagine how tough it would be to create on-brand materials if none of this was shared? If my client wants to reproduce their logo or brochure across any media, t-shirt to website - it's up to them - unless I have specified otherwise at the beginning of the project of course.

Professionally you want the best look for your client, with synergy across matching materials and should do whatever you can to make that happen as long as you aren't being taken advantage of.

  • Yeah that's the problem, as you said being taken advantage of. I designed their logo and they're using it everywhere which is expected, but there's a difference between using a logo and the web designer taking apart my file and turning it into a website. In short, they coded it, but I designed the aesthetics of it myself, and not getting paid for that. – Brandon Jul 4 '18 at 6:15
  • I think you already got paid for the design so no advantage is being taken? Unless you specified a license as to how they are allowed to use your design and worded it in a contract they signed then why would they pay you twice for one design? Web designers receiving assets from designers is standard practice in my 20+ years experience in the field. The other option is that they recreate all the elements as closely as possible but it wont be exact and client will end up with mis-matching materials, and surely no designer wants that for their client. – Brian Brenda Jul 4 '18 at 22:24

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