I am relatively new to working in design, based in the UK, currently freelancing and have been working with one company in particular (also UK based) for many months now. They have recently suggested working on a monthly retainer basis and have provided a contract from their end for me to sign.
The section below is taken from the contract:
Ownership of Work Product. The Parties agree that all work product, information or other materials created and developed by Independent Contractor in connection with the performance of the Services under this Agreement and any resulting intellectual property rights (collectively, the “Work Product”) are the sole and exclusive property of Client. The Parties acknowledge that the Work Product shall, to the extent permitted by law, be considered a “work made for hire” within the definition of Section 101 of the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended, (the “Copyright Act”) and that Client is deemed to be the author and is the owner of all copyright and all other rights therein. If the work product is not deemed to be a “work made for hire” under the Copyright Act, then Independent Contractor hereby assigns to Client all of Independent Contractor’s rights, title and interest in and to the Work Product, including but not limited to all copyrights, publishing rights and rights to use, reproduce and otherwise exploit the Work Product in any and all formats, media, or all channels, whether now known or hereafter created.
It is a fintech company so i do not expect them to, for example, profit much from selling clothes, or posters with my work on it. However, they are interested in the style of branding, illustration and general design of this website https://salesforce.com/ which uses a lot of colourful and playful imagery / illustrations.
Other than branding, and general webpage images, i will be providing illustrations for the website or blogs etc, including potentially a brand character or series of characters. And I believe they may be interested in producing physical items from some of this work to occasionally distribute at events etc.
I see that they would like to own all this work outright, however, I have a few concerns:
1. What would they really own? I am not so concerned about general webpage images. However, things like illustrations or character design would reflect my personal style of art/design. I would not want anyone other than myself to have any right to anything that reflects my style of work. That is, I don't mind producing a character concept, but would not want the actual style of the character/design to be owned. E.g., As future designs for other companies may likely also use a similar style. Not to mention artistic style is very personal thing. Of course I see many illustrators have their own unique style, which is used across numerous businesses, albeit different illustrations. But is an artistic style something that needs to be addressed in a contract to prevent anyone other than yourself from inadvertently gaining any rights to this?
2. Could this have an impact on my future work? Similar to above, e.g., if future designs for other companies also used a similar style. What are the copyright implications of this? What should be borne in mind?
3. Does anything about this contract section concern you? If so, how would you suggest to address this?
4. Do you have any general recommendations for what to look out for, or anything not mentioned above?
Many thanks for any information