I plan to hire a graphic designer to design the cover and a few internal graphics for a book I wrote. Suppose the designer then finds some other artist's work, copy and pastes the graphics, and sells it to me, without my awareness. Would I be held liable?

  • If geography is important, assume for the US.
  • 4
    The contract should have at least a paragraph or condition about this.
    – Vincent
    Aug 9, 2014 at 11:31
  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about legal issues and while designers may have some experience with legal matters, legal professionals should always be asked for clear legal advice. Answers here will be "best guess" in general.
    – Scott
    Aug 9, 2014 at 20:29
  • 1
    I'd really like to know the answer to this but it seems unlikely: we do get sometimes get good answers to legal questions from people with direct experience, but of the people who could have experience of this, the clients will be unlikely to post on design sites, designers whose work was stolen will be unlikely to know the exact final outcome, and designers who did the stealing and got caught aren't going to be keen to share their story... :( Aug 9, 2014 at 23:14
  • 1
    It's a very different question (almost the opposite) but see How to handle client requests to violate copyrights? (esp Lauren Ipsum's answer which sounds like what you need but going the other way). TLDR: it's a murky area so make sure your contract states explictly that the person providing materials is responsible for ensuring they have the right to do so. Such clauses are common in template contracts. Aug 9, 2014 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Further to what @user568458 said in the comment above about my answer on the other question: Try writing it in your contract with the designer.

I AM NOT A LAWYER AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL WORDING. This is just a suggestion. You should run this by an actual lawyer, and I have no idea if this will hold up in court. But I think it's a decent start, and as a designer, I would have no problem agreeing to this.

"Client may ask Designer to provide artwork for Project.

  • If Client requests photography, Designer will provide written proof to Client that rights to the photographs were granted and/or purchased from the owner of the copyright on the photograph(s).
  • If Client requests artwork, Designer will provide written proof to Client that rights to the artwork were granted and/or purchased from the owner of the copyright on the artwork.
  • If Designer takes the photo and/or creates the artwork, and Client chooses to use the photo and/or artwork for Project, Designer agrees to transfer the copyright of the photo and/or artwork to Client in writing. OR Designer agrees to sell the usage rights for the photo and/or artwork to Client for this Project.
  • A separate contract will be drawn up between Designer and Client to effect the copyright transfer/sale of usage rights for the photo and/or artwork.
  • If Designer cannot prove in writing that Designer and Client have permission to the photo and/or artwork provided to Client for use in Project, Client will refuse usage of the photo and/or artwork. In such case, Client will not be held responsible for any plagiarism or copyright violation charges against Designer. In such case, Designer promises to say that the use of the photo and/or artwork was not Client's fault or Client's request."
  • 1
    Nicely stated and great idea.
    – Scott
    Aug 10, 2014 at 15:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.