If a client is present in the room when you are 'creating/designing' something for them and they contribute ideas verbally which may or may not form part of the final design who owns the copyright?

Do I own the copyright as the person who 'created' the artwork, or do they have partial copyright as a contributor of ideas that I then visualised under their direction?

  • what does the contract say? Also, this type of question could get better answers on freelance.SE
    – user9447
    Mar 25, 2015 at 13:00
  • We probably need a bit more context here. In general, ideas are not copyrightable. Images are. But typically when you are designing a logo for a client, the entire point of the transaction is to design something that the customer then owns the copyright too (as it's their logo, after all). What's the concern you have at the moment?
    – DA01
    Mar 25, 2015 at 15:48
  • In this case it's a friend of mine who agreed verbally to design a logo for a friend of theirs (with the friend inferring that they would pay them something for it), having completed the logo it being used in print, online and on t-shirts etc the friend they did the work for is now claiming is was all done voluntarily. Of course there is no contract which they clearly should have had... but I'm interested to know what the default position in terms of copyright is in such a situation. Mar 25, 2015 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


You have stumbled uppon the real problem behind intelectual property. That is nothing happens in a void. There are allways countless people that influenced and contributed to the idea

Yet, not many of these actually get their share of ownership. So it is NOT really the idea thats worth the protection, but the implementation (Sort of anyway) Or in case of patents the entities that undertake the process of patenting the idea.

So in essence you own the copyright, unless you worked as a employee or contract states otherwise, or some other exception. No matter how good the idea is their picture does not come to being without you.

This said you can still be reasonable. This is sane because the law is up to inerpretation. And here comes the disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, even if i was, I am not your lawyer.

  • Thanks Joojaa, great answer. Believe it or not this is one of those situations where I'm asking for a friend. Sh/e has no contract, just a verbal agreement for some kind of payment in return for help creating a logo for a new business. Mar 25, 2015 at 15:24

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