Understanding Your Basic Copyright Rights


By Dana Sotoodeh

As professionals in a creative field, a lot of us have side jobs freelancing. Weather you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer, or you do both, it’s important to understand copyright rules so you don’t get caught in uncomfortable situations where you’re unsure about your rights.

 Team Snackbox presents you: How to understand and utilize copyright laws.

Situation: You are hired by a business to design a brochure. You create the product, print it, and get paid. A couple of months later the business asks you for the Photoshop and InDesign files you used.

Tip 1: Just because a business has paid you for the work that you have done for them, does not mean they are entitled to all of your files once the product is complete.

It’s important to realize that some businesses, believe it or not, want this information so they can use it as their own for future projects. With that being said, an important thing to remember is that when you work as a freelancer, you own the rights to your work.  This gives you the same rights that everyone has under basic copyright law such as the right to make and distribute copies, etc.   The only way the business you free lanced for can have copies of your work is if you signed a “buy- out” , in which you sign a written assignment of your copyright.  Be sure to read the fine, fine print if you sign any kind of written contract before signing on as a freelancer.


Tip 2: You get to decide what rights your client gets to your work

If you decide that you want to allow the business the right to your files and work, the ball is still in your court. You have the right to decide what media you want your work used on, during what time frame, and under what conditions they may use it. You also can specify if you want to give your client exclusive rights to your work. This simply means that only the client you free-lanced for gets to use it. It also ensures that they don’t sell your work to someone else.


Tip 3: Discuss terms and conditions before freelancing

The safest way to go about freelancing is to bring up your terms and conditions before you sign a contract, or verbally agree to one. A lot of times, businesses won’t be thinking about if they will need your work after you are finished, when they initially meet with you. It’s also fair to base your pricing on whether or not they will be using your work again in the future. In order to avoid conflicts and maintain good relationships with people you freelance for, lay out your terms and conditions from the beginning. It also speaks volumes about your professionalism.