Questions tagged [copyright]

Questions about copyright law from a designers point of view. Answers should not be treated as bona fide legal advice, but instead as advice from designers who've experienced copyright issues in their career. Ask anything about how copyright relates to graphic design, though bear in mind that we are not lawyers.

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74
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8answers
16k views

How to handle client requests to violate copyrights?

I know Google image search is not a free-for-all to grab any image needed. However, many, many, many clients don't grasp this concept and often request or send images they'd like to use in a design or ...
30
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4answers
5k views

Safety of using images found through Google image search

I am working on a Facebook education page for my church. I often find Google search images that don't have an obvious copyright symbol at the bottom of the article or blog. How do I know if these ...
24
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6answers
28k views

How to attribute, give credit to creative commons/copyleft/public domain content for web/print?

Edit: To be extremely succinct: How to credit imagery used on a business card or ballpoint pen? Inspired by this question, I started to think: How do you attribute and give credit, when you use ...
23
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7answers
14k views

Repeat client is suddenly demanding intellectual property rights!

A fairly sizable client whom I've done a few jobs for over the past several years has recently contacted me for a new job. We have never had a contract for any of the work I've done for them (I'm a ...
23
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2answers
1k views

What to do if your website design got stolen?

Let say your website design got stolen. You saw your design being used from a different site or company. The only difference from your design is the logo and some images. What actions can you do to ...
22
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5answers
40k views

Charging an Intellectual Property transfer fee for design work

So, you've finished a design job (eg. a logo design) and the client asks for your IP surrounding the logo, eg copyright, original artwork files, notes, sketches, all of that stuff that went into ...
21
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4answers
16k views

Is it necessary to attribute Creative Commons licensed art?

There are tons of sites out there with free graphics. You can find a bunch of these sites through freepik.com. It seems that 99% of these graphics use the CC Attribution 3.0 license. I'm wondering ...
21
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4answers
3k views

Why are fonts from the 19th century not in the public domain?

(This is probably more a "copyright" question than anything, but I have not found an appropriate StackExchange site for this kind of question.) Why are fonts like Akzidenz-Grotesk, that were made way ...
18
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5answers
60k views

What are the consequences of using unlicensed fonts?

I know that whenever somebody makes something and we want to use it, it is better to contribute to them and pay for it. But I have nothing to hide: I have used fonts illegally a few times. Is it ...
17
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3answers
5k views

How to handle a request for handing over 6 years of working files?

My best client has just employed a new person who is vaguely capable of design work and wants me to upload all my 6 years and 70GB worth of files to their drive so they can update them when they need ...
17
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3answers
695 views

Where does inspiration end, where does illegitimate copying start?

I'm creating the UI for a web application which will mainly run on Macs. So my goal is to preserve the look and feel of Mac OS. But since I don't use Apples Frameworks I'm not allowed to use their UI ...
17
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2answers
5k views

Are you allowed to use a warning sign as a logo or is this copyrighted?

I came across a website that uses the laser warning sign: Is it even allowed to use such signs as a logo, or are these copyrighted somewhere?
16
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2answers
2k views

Establishing the real copyright owner of a font

An increasing collection of fonts are being released for free, but the majority of fonts require a license. For any given font, it's possible to find many versions online, both legal and not. There ...
15
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8answers
43k views

Where can I get images for commercial use?

I am running a web site design service for local small business owner. I want avoid legal issues on the images I use. Usually, the images found on Flickr are forbidden for commercial use. Where would ...
15
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3answers
12k views

Copyright of a set of colors?

I often see color combinations on webpages, images, posters, products etc. that harmonize really well. Am I allowed to use those colors in my own design? This is solely about the colors. I will not ...
14
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3answers
12k views

Will I get sued for my logo, even though the customer doesn’t know me?

A few months ago I made a logo for a customer on Brandsupply. Brandsupply is a site that lets a customer upload their ideas for a logo, and then choose the logo they want from the design that a bunch ...
14
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6answers
3k views

Can I use portions of stock images for derivative works?

I have some stock vector files from istock that I'd like to use as the starting point for a logo. I'd like to stress I wouldn't be using the original image in the logo - but using as a starting point ...
14
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1answer
13k views

What should happen if a logo I made is similar to another?

Note: This is a canonical post created so that we can close the many similar questions as duplicates as discussed in this meta post. We have created a logo for a client and they love it. We've ...
13
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6answers
8k views

Would this be considered as plagiarism? [duplicate]

I have recently had a logo designed for my company only to realise after rebranding my vehicle and website is shares certain similarities with another well-known logo. Could somebody with a better ...
13
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9answers
5k views

Is it ethical to copy the work of other designers?

I am neither a graphic designer nor do I consider myself one. I have little grasp of colour theory, and basic knowledge of design principles. I do possess a sense of what looks good, though, and I am ...
12
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5answers
4k views

Is it right to use the ideas of non-winning designers in a design contest?

I am a mobile developer. I want to create my own mobile app, so I ran a contest for the mobile design. Many good designers participated in the contest. I get lots of good ideas from almost all of ...
12
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2answers
7k views

How to comply with sharealike clause when using creative commons cc-by-sa licensed images in commercial work?

If I want to use images licensed under the creative commons cc-by-sa license, how do I have to share the derivative work in order to comply with the license of the original image? In particular, how ...
11
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2answers
3k views

How do I protect a typeface I have designed from being pirated? [closed]

I have professional experience at designing typefaces dating back forty years, and I recently designed a new kind of typeface for which I wrote a small user's guide which essentially describes the ...
11
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7answers
2k views

Should graphic artists be scared at all about anyone stealing their artworks?

Are you guys scared at all about anyone stealing your art? What should designers do about it if it happens? I want to post my own art at Instagram or Deviant, now that I'm improving but all the time ...
11
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5answers
13k views

Is vectorizing an image copyright infringement if the image is not CC/Public domain?

Is it okay to vectorize this image to make a poster out of it even though the image is not Creative Commons or anything like that? I'm not using any part of the image directly and only going to use it ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Designer vs client: portfolio rights?

I’ve recently had a ‘falling out’ with a family friend and also client. I’ve been designing for her for about 2 years and I already have an online portfolio made (including some designs she hasn’t ...
11
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4answers
3k views

Can I use an icon in the public domain as a company logo?

Client in question found a public domain icon they really want to use as their logo (instead of having one designed, I know, I know). Is this legal?
11
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4answers
5k views

Plagiarism vs Inspiration

Artists, writers, musicians, designers, businesses, even the creative DIY blogger mom at home must decide for themselves where to draw the line between being “Inspired” and “Copying” other’s hard work....
11
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2answers
8k views

Can I freely use the fire exit symbol and similar ISO symbols?

I've been doing some research into this symbol (part of ISO 7010), which I'd like to use: but I can't find out whether I'm allowed to or not. Is the glyph in the public domain? What about similar ...
10
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5answers
3k views

Is it safe to use an image when I'm unable to identify its source?

I found a photo on the internet and want to use it in my free Android app. The problem is that I can't find the source, so I don't know if this photo is legally available for such use or not. What ...
10
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2answers
312 views

Making a typeface – should I check if it resembles any non-free or copyrighted typefaces?

I want to make a typeface that I would also let others to download if they happen to like it. But if I use it on the net, and if I also let other people using it, can I have copyright problems? It’s ...
10
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2answers
746 views

New identity under a larger identity?

I work for a large organization as the in-house designer. We are required to follow guidelines for our identity put forth by an external design agency that they made for us 4 years ago. However now we ...
10
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2answers
1k views

When to tell long-term client I'm retiring within the next year

For fiteen years I've been designing a quarterly forty-page publication (print & online) and numerous other smaller projects for a small city. Now I'm planning to retire in the next six to twelve ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Should I assign copyright of business card design?

I'm a professional graphic designer, new to freelancing, and I am preparing a proposal for an identity project. The project includes a logo, a business card design, and an electronic letterhead ...
10
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1answer
640 views

Is it OK to copy a person's likeness in a realistic portrait without their permission?

Suppose I am designing a set of plates for the next D&D books (which I am not, unfortunately) and suppose I need to draw a monk with a slightly sneaky face. I have tried several concepts out of my ...
9
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3answers
1k views

How to handle a client who only wants to purchase stock images from my design mockup, instead of my design?

I am a graphic designer who provided spec work for a client. I worked on a flyer and I gave them 2 options. They went with one, paid for it. Now they have another project and would like to use the ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Can I revise a poor logo without infringing on copyright? (Canada)

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 ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Is it ethical to include template-based works in your portfolio?

Is it ethical and right to include template-based works (i.e. sites built from a WordPress theme) in your portfolio, or is it considered the property of the original author?
8
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1answer
903 views

How to word email explaining working files buyout

After years of providing press ready PDF files to my customer for extensive revisions to a yearly catalog, they are asking for the InDesign "working files," which they think they are entitled to, as ...
8
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4answers
1k views

How can a designer decide whether a competitors design is similar enough to their own to take further action?

There is a lot of copycatting out in the world, and it's a constant legal battle fought in higher courts. For us ants on the ground, grinding away in smaller capacities with little or no permanent ...
8
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3answers
3k views

Copyright ownership: paid by hour vs. paid by project

I am a freelance web designer. I am working out a contract with a client to revamp an existing site and freshen the design. In my contract I have some language which I adapted from the AIGA ...
8
votes
1answer
137 views

What precautions can be taken to prevent a printer from holding on to and possibly printing copies of a piece?

Other than purchasing equipment to do prints at home are there any precautions that can be taken to prevent a print lab from maintaining and possibly even giving out or printing additional copies of a ...
8
votes
1answer
908 views

Do the illustrations I do for a company belong to me, or to the company?

I'm doing a new website for a business and it's going to involve some original graphics: a large drawing that will get used for various background elements, and two medium-sized looping Flash or GIF ...
8
votes
1answer
133 views

What to do with clients files as I stop consulting?

I've been an independent designer for years, keeping my own clients on top of freelancing/teaching. I'm busier with other things now and planning on stopping work for my clients. At some point, I've ...
7
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5answers
6k views

Confused By Copyright Rules

I freelance, but I'm still green in some areas and Copyright is one of them. I know about using/purchasing stock and all that, I have accounts on all the stock sites, but I created a design, which ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

What should I do if I find a logo very similar to my design? [duplicate]

I designed this "LUCENTICITY" logo 2 days ago. I swear it was my idea. I chose the design after many sketches. Today I was browsing the old featured logos on LogoPond and was shocked to come across ...
7
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3answers
4k views

Who owns the design?

Recently, I hired a graphic designer to design a brand, a web site, business cards and several other things. After the initial design was complete and we launched, we have continued to make changes ...
7
votes
4answers
11k views

Is it legal to use copyrighted fonts without a license for non-profit projects?

I just want to use some specific fonts for a non-profit project. I'll never sell or get any money (not myself or anyone related) with this. Not myself or anyone or the makers of those fonts will ...
7
votes
4answers
3k views

Buying a logo from a graphic designer: who owns the copyright?

I am working with a graphic designer for a new logo. They are offering the logo, but have said there will be parameters put in place to prevent me from editing the logo myself. Is this commonplace ...
7
votes
3answers
418 views

Who is the 'designer'

Last year, I approached a graphic design company with some of my own sketches and photos that I would like to be used in the design of some logos for my company branding. The designer uses my original ...

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