Important Copyright Considerations
It is important to understand what rights you will have once a design has been commissioned and in what way you will be able to use a design. Drawings, logos and visual images are protected by copyright. Ideas and concepts are not. This means that generally all work created by Hot Ant is protected by Australia's Copyright Laws and cannot be reproduced without permission. Often we cannot foresee what a client may choose to do with a design in the distant future. It is assumed you will be using it for the purpose it was created for so we do not include any royaltee or license fee in our designs. This keeps the costs down for you. But please remember you are bound by copyright laws not to reproduce our designs without our permission and the sale for profit of any part or our design is expressly forbidden without a license from us.
In the case of logo designs and corporate identity designs Hot Ant will often permit the client unlimited use of the design for the purpose for which it was commissioned plus limited use for reproducing the design as a normal function of your business activities, such as adding your new logo to your website, in email signatures or perhaps in a new magazine advertisement at no additional cost. Hot Ant however, retains its copyright unless otherwise agreed and it may be advisable to contact us to secure permission if you are unsure of your rights to reproduce a design. By retaining our copyright we retain the right to use our designs for other purposes. This is standard copyright law but we mention it here simply to prevent the situation where we have created a particular design or even a simple shape for a client and find that the client is upset because we are using a similar shape or design for another purpose.
Here's a simple example... let's asume we have designed a new logo for you that includes a stylised southern cross. As the designer we have created a unique southern cross that no-one has ever seen before and looks really great. The client may have suggested including a southern cross in the design but it was the designer that made it valuable - there are lots of southern cross designs out there but this one is all new. Let's call that southern cross a new invention. Many people might love to have that southern cross design for their own logos, or for use in marketing material or in multimedia presentations or it might even be considered a great idea for a new Australian flag one day. As the copyright owner we could sell that design for all those purposes. We could even sell it as part of a clip art collection or the Commonwealth Bank might want to buy the rights to it to replace their existing logo. We might even become famous for creating a new flag and receive lots of new clients. So our new invention is potentially a very valuable asset. But the client doesn't want that to happen because it is his new logo. Unless there is an agreement in place our invention remains our property and we are the only party that is able to take advantage of that asset for other purposes. But we are happy to license it to the client so he can make his own profit from it. If the client would like to own the entire right to that invention and prevent us from ever using it for another purpose he would need to purchase the rights to it outright. Or in other words purchase the potential value of it.
But, if the client does not have the rights to that southern cross and decides to sell it he is in effect selling something he doesn't own. Another problem would arise if the client decided to use the southern cross as the cover of a new book or for a mass marketing campaign or any other purpose than what it was designed for. All those things are damaging the potential value of that invention because it will become much less desirable to say the Commonwealth Bank if it has been used for lots of other things. This problem can be compounded if the client has used another designer to alter the design or if a book publisher has been asked to print lots of copies of a book containing a design he wasn't licensed for. The client may inadvertantly be causing all those people to be also in breach of copyright laws.
If you would like to use our design in a commercial capacity or to reproduce them in ways other than what your design was intended please contact us to discuss a licensing agreement. Licensing agreements simply mean that Hot Ant will grant you a license for a particular use of the design. That license may be granted free, it may require a small fee for any sales of the design or a may require a single payment to allow you the rights to unlimited use for a certain period. Licensing agreements also allow both parties to discuss exactly how a design will be used and formulate a simple agreement that suits both parties, thus avoiding any disputes down the track.
Why do I need a licensing agreement if I was very specific about the design I wanted?
Because your designer has brought considerable talent, skill, training and experience to the design process and created something no-one has ever seen before. If you ask us to create you a butterfly our imagination and skill will enable us to create a unique butterfly that anyone can now see and touch. But that butterfly is not the one you had floating around in your head when you first decided you needed someone to create you a butterfly. That butterfly is our interpretation of what you require. It's our invention. The one in your head is yours. You can do what you like with yours and we'll do what we like with ours. Or, consider it like this... you have purchased a copy of our butterfly design. The one that we gave you. You don't have a right to go away and make your own copies of it. Our services are only charged on the time it takes us to create them and unforeseen future uses or potential are generally not considered when invoicing you. When you engage a designer you are engaging a professional to enhance or create a product that you could not otherwise create yourself. Usually you will have a particular purpose in mind for that product. If you have told us what that purpose is you are free to use it for that purpose. If you haven't told us what you intend to use it for, or if another opportunity to use it becomes available you will need to contact us about a license because we need to be fully aware of what is happening with our design. An idea is nothing until someone is able to make it a reality and you are engaging your designer to provide you with a particular product not the copyright to his/her design for your own unlimited use. As the copyright owner the designer has a right to receive a profit if there are profits to be made from selling a design. Often that fee is only a very small portion of the total sale price.
As a final example let's assume you employ an architect to design you a new home. You may have had a lot of imput in the final design but the architect is the person that actually made that design a reality. You wouldn't take the design he or she created for you and sell it to a building company without his permission because you don't own the copyright to that design. But you are free to use it for the purpose it was created - building your new home. The same applies to graphic designs.
Crediting Our Designs
All Hot Ant designs should also be duly credited to Hot Ant where they appear in published works. The following statement from the Australian Copyright Council outlines the rules relating to 'Moral Rights' regarding attribution of designs.
"Creators of many types of copyright material, including the creators of artistic works, have moral
rights in respect of their work, whether or not they also own copyright. These rights impose
certain obligations on people who use their work. Creators of artistic works have the right to:
• be attributed as the creator of their work;
• take action if their work is falsely attributed as being the work of someone else; and
• take action if their work is distorted or treated in a way that is prejudicial to their reputation."