Copyrighted Material (sigh)

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by SwiftLives, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. SwiftLives macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #1
    I'm being encouraged to use copyrighted material for an internal corporate campaign. It's basically, a bunch of posters and banners that will be hung around the building thanking employees for working.

    This gives me the willies. I tend to avoid using unlicensed material whether it be for an internal or external project. And yet, I am unable to get the requester to relent. And yes, I've mentioned the words "lawsuit" and "potentially very very very costly" - not necessarily in that order.

    Any amateur legal types care to weigh in on this? Does the fact that it's an internal campaign have any effect on whether or not we can use the materials?
     
  2. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

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    #2
    What I'd maybe suggest – if your client insists and won't listen to reason – is to make sure that you have your objections and their dismissal of them in writing.
     
  3. TEG macrumors 604

    TEG

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    #3
    Agreed. That way you are off the hook if the "S" hits the fan.

    TEG
     
  4. Shoesy macrumors 6502a

    Shoesy

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  5. owaters macrumors member

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    #5
    Definitely get something in writing from your client which relinquishes you of all responsibility if you are going to go ahead with it. The likelihood is that nothing will happen, but you can't be too careful ;o)

    I'm not 100% sure this would cover your ass to be honest. I guess it's a bit like someone telling you to steal and you getting them to sign something saying it's their responsibility if you get caught. This wouldn't stand up in court.

    If you are really unsure, consult a lawyer or simply say you cannot do it.
     
  6. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    May 18, 2004
    #6
    when you say "internal", are you talking about your own place of employment? or is there an external client that's paying you to make these banners for the client's workplace?
     
  7. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #7
    I'd be tempted to get the client to sign something that states you have advised them not to do this BUT they are still going ahead.

    Cover yourself, if the client wont listen to reason it's on them.
     
  8. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    #8
    Yeah - it's internal. As in at my own place of employment. So I'm not sure signing statements will be in order.
     
  9. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    #9
    As unappealing as it is, if it's an internal thing that is not designed to promote the company to outside interests at all, you will be okay. Since you are an employee you shouldn't be subject to any legal action in the unlikely event that the copyright owner sees the materials and decides to proceed with litigation.
     
  10. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    May 18, 2004
    #10
    maybe.....maybe not!

    the fair use doctrine does allow some exceptions to the rights of a copyright holder.....but it's all somewhat vague and undefined as to what those exceptions actually are and when they might apply. Lawyers make good money arguing about this stuff :D

    the following is from the U.S. Copyright Office. The whole article is here; Fair Use


    I kinda tend to think that maybe it's questionable that "fair use" lets you use the copyright stuff, maybe
     
  11. greg555 macrumors 6502a

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    Canada
    #11
    Does your company have a legal or an intellectual property department? You could play dumb and sent them an email asking what the policy is on using copyright material for internal banners etc.

    Greg
     
  12. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

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    #12
    An email record of you advising them not to use copyrighted material will be enough.

    Chances of anything happening are miniscule. I really wouldn't worry about it, especially as it's internal.
     
  13. polar-blair macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    #13
    What is it that you are being asked to use, can you not create a copy of the banner and use it, I know that some firms create a copy of a font they like and give it a different name rather than paying for it, could you use that approach, Im not sure if it helps I dont really know much about this, just thought It could be an idea.
     
  14. jerryrock macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    #14
    I would not use the copyrighted material. If necessary, I would take the issue to a higher authority. If you knowingly use copyrighted material, then you are a party to the potential lawsuit. An order from you boss does not exempt you from the law.
     
  15. IgnatiusTheKing macrumors 68040

    IgnatiusTheKing

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    #15
    Yes but we're talking about a banner that will only be seen by internal employees. It's not like his company is using this for marketing/revenue-generating purposes. The odds of any legal action arising from using this are incredibly long.

    If you go over your boss's head (if that's even possible), you might get fired. Is it worth it over internal artwork? I say no.
     
  16. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

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    The Bamboo Forest
    #16
    Just because the intent is to use them internally now, doesn't mean they might not get used externally in the future. I guess I don't know precisely what is going on the posters but you never know.

    I wouldn't do it.
     
  17. Heath macrumors regular

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    Aug 19, 2005
    Location:
    Canada
    #17
    I would not use it. Even if it is only for 'internal use' it's a slippery slope you start down. Next time it will only be for this 'one other thing', then 'another thing'. IF you think your boss is asking you to do something illegal, then you can, and should go over his head. I'm sure their boss would like to know about any illegal activities your boss is suggesting. Failing that, there's always the whistleblower protections should it get that far out of hand.
     
  18. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

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    #18
    You've got to look at the balance of probabilities. Causing yourself personal hardship from refusing to follow instructions is guaranteed, whereas a potential lawsuit is so unlikely it's not worth considering.

    An order from the boss wouldn't exempt you from the law, but you wouldn't be getting sued - the company would be.

    I think you've got to toughen up with this one - you've got to harden up that conscience! Nice guys don't finish first etc. etc. :)
     
  19. AuPhalanx macrumors regular

    AuPhalanx

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    #19
    You are worrying about this WAY too much. And the people chanting "potential lawsuit" aren't helping much (if at all) either. For there to be a lawsuit by the copyright holder, he would have to show that your use of the work impacted his bottom line or that your company profited in some way by its use. Since this is going to be used internally for rah-rah workplace banners, that would be a VERY difficult things for anyone to show.

    In an absolute worst case scenario, the most for which the copyright holder would be able to sue would be a fair use fee. And in your situation, that might be about $50.

    So, go ahead and make the posters and banners. Have fun with it. You have nothing about which to worry. At all.

    Have fun ... Tony.
     
  20. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #20
    WRONG

    Read the copyright laws, http://www.copyright.gov/
     
  21. jerryrock macrumors 6502

    jerryrock

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    Amsterdam, NY
    #21
    It is about professionalism, ethics and personal integrity.

    http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/standards-professional-practice

    "A professional designer shall not accept instructions from a client that involve infringement of another person’s property rights without permission, or consciously act in any manner involving any such infringement."

    "A professional designer who accepts instructions from a client or employer that involve violation of the designer’s ethical standards should be corrected by the designer, or the designer should refuse the assignment."
     
  22. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

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    Dec 7, 2001
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    Charleston, SC
    #22
    Yeah - setting a precedent does concern me.

    Here's a slightly more specific description:

    They actually want to take comic book characters (very well-known ones from very well-known comic books) and use those in banners and posters around the office building as sort of an employee morale boost. I have less of a problem using the names of these comic book characters in the copy and more of a problem using their actual likenesses.

    I think I'm going to find some generic stock-photography versions to use for the project. And I'll direct them to the company lawyer if they complain. I'd much rather play this one verrrry conservatively.

    Kind of a shame since I had this really kickass comic book page concept for some of the posters. Meh. I can redirect.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  23. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    Feb 24, 2008
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    Over there------->
    #23
    Just a thought: it might be fun to invent a custom comic book character for the purpose, if you're at all able to draw. This is one of those cases where if you are clever enough, you could come out as a hero in your own right. :)
     
  24. SwiftLives thread starter macrumors 65816

    SwiftLives

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    #24
    It's funny how many people think that because I can design, that logically, I can draw.

    Drawing has never been my thing. It's not that I can't draw, but what takes an illustrator a day might take me a week.
     

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