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Any lawyers in the building?


Pete
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Copyright and intellectual property to be exact.


In a nutshell I'm a web and graphic designer, I was made redundant from my permanent job just over 4 weeks ago. My work is very visual and I rely on a portfolio to get my next job. After being made redundant I created an online portfolio and exhibited some of the work that I'd worked on in my previous employment.


Subsequently my previous employer contacted me (last Monday) and told me (really quite aggressively) to take the work down and confirm that I had deleted any copies, etc. within 48hrs. Not being sure of my legal position and not wanting to get on the wrong side of the law I quickly took the work down and confirmed that I had done so. The following day my previous employer emailed me to confirm that I had deleted everything in my possession. I responded by saying that I was seeking legal advice on their requests (obviously not knowing my legal position I wanted to know what my rights were before "signing" for anything).


On Friday last week I'd found out that I have pretty much no rights whatsoever to the work and was going to email to confirm the deletion when I got back home from being away for a few days. Before I had chance to do that though I received a letter from my previous employer's legal representatives making 8 demands, including that I must pay £500 as a contribution towards my previous employers legal costs.


I then contacted my previous employer to confirm that everything had been deleted and trusted that that would be an end to the matter. I also emailed the legal representatives explaining my shock and surprise that the matter had got to the stage that it has. By "I will be seeking legal advice" I meant I would be visiting the Citizen's Advice Bureau to find out my legal position, not that I would be looking to take the matter further.


What are people's opinions on this? As I see it I've done everything that's been asked of me, though admittedly I didn't confirm deletion of materials within the initial 48hrs. My main concern is the £500 that's been asked of me. Do I have to pay it? Do I have to do anything now that I've confirmed everything that's been asked?


I've posted similar threads on a couple of legal forums but there doesn't seem enough members on those for anyone to be getting back to me! Hopefully someone can help!


Thanks :)

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Typically it will say in your contract that anything you produce, even IDEAS you come up with :P, during work hours are the sole property your employer and as such you have zero rights.


People normally provide links to websites, etc, though in their CVs. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "portfolio of work you previously worked on".

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I'm not a lawyer but that's never stopped me before lol.


Did you take down the online portfolio within 48 hours? I don't mean delete it, but just remove it from your website. This would show you were co-operating.


I would of thought you would be within your rights to seek legal advice before complying with their request. It's maybe a question of whether 48 hours is enough time to do this. I'm guessing it isn't for someone in your position, it's not like you will have an on demand lawyer at your disposal.


If you are now unemployed does that entitle you to legal aid? If you can fight the charge for free then you may as well. As well as the issue of you having to pay the charge their is also whether the charge is considered excessive or not, in that they can't just charge you whatever they want, it has to be level with their costs incurred.


Hopefully someone with actual knowledge of the issue will be along soon.


Good luck with it.


P.S For your portfolio is it not possible to list websites that you have worked on that potential new employers can visit?

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P.S For your portfolio is it not possible to list websites that you have worked on that potential new employers can visit?

 

Or just print screen and keep on record if they ask for it?


Does sound like they are trying to bully you, so getting a bit of legal advice would probably be a good idea.

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Thanks folks! Responses have been quick so cheers for that.


I fully accept that they own all rights and so that's why I've taken action to get rid of any of the work online and have complied in full so far. The only issue really is this £500 (and the other points, including me having to sign an affidavit to say that I've deleted all material...but I've already confirmed this via email).


Thanks oldgreg01 for those ideas - yes I'm still unemployed and hadn't thought of legal aid! Good thinking!


I've booked an appointment with a lawyer this afternoon. Spoke to him on the phone and he seems to have fire in his belly already about this lol nice to have someone on my side at last (Citizen's Advice just seemed to want to get me out the door).


Thanks again everyone.


p.s. by online portfolio I mean a showcase of my work so far. I'm not looking to make profit from any of this, just get another job! You can see what I mean by visiting my site at http://www.peteblakemore.co.uk (the work in question was for Jaguar Land Rover - on the site all work has been taken down and JLR have just been referenced. I worked for an I.T. company, not directly for JLR).

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Hey your website has changed since I last saw it!


Sorry to hear you've been made redundant though wasn't it not long ago you where looking for another job ?


Also, you have any out door HDR snaps? I like HDR :D


Sorry totally off topic!!! :lol:

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I'm no lawyer and this isn't legal advice, but I'd say your obligation was purely to remove the offending articles. If it cost them £500 to internally generate that request to you because they decided to use external lawyers then that's their problem imo. Get the CAB lawyer to draft a response to be on the safe side. I'd not be signing anything personally.


Portfolios are tricky due to the copyright and permissions. If you went through an design agency then the agent will use the clients for their own portfolio and not want you advertising the same sites as your own elsewhere. Even mentioning the client is tricky without permission. Best way is to make one in your free time, either do some charity work, find some direct end clients or do something else similar (e.g. gaming sites). Anything else could cause more trouble than it's worth, sorry it sucks but you don't own the IP as an employee.

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I'm no lawyer and usually go on 'common sense' in which the law seems very far removed from however I do believe that the solicitors are trying to recoup their pay from you rather from their employer. I would confirm this with the solicitor you're due to meet but I'd tell them where to stick their money to be honest. Regarding the IP I'd pay a visit to conceptart.org and ask on there, you should find an answer quite quickly.

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Thanks guys. I'm pretty clear now that I don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to IP or copyright, I'm not debating that with them. The only remaining question is this £500. I sent an email to their legal representatives on Friday if this would be an end to the matter. If they still insist on the £500 I will ask for a break down of exactly what they want me to pay for (itemised), why they've picked £500 out of the air (i.e. why not £496.32) and where in my contract does it state that if in the event of legal cases arising from my employment with the company I should fund the company's legal advice!


To be honest I think my ex-employer who's dealing with this (the MD) doesn't have much else to do with her time. It seems to be getting quite personal now and I wouldn't be surprised if this £500 was meant to go towards her wages for the day that she put into working on this. We'll see anyway!

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Thanks guys. I'm pretty clear now that I don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to IP or copyright, I'm not debating that with them. The only remaining question is this £500. I sent an email to their legal representatives on Friday if this would be an end to the matter. If they still insist on the £500 I will ask for a break down of exactly what they want me to pay for (itemised), why they've picked £500 out of the air (i.e. why not £496.32) and where in my contract does it state that if in the event of legal cases arising from my employment with the company I should fund the company's legal advice!


To be honest I think my ex-employer who's dealing with this (the MD) doesn't have much else to do with her time. It seems to be getting quite personal now and I wouldn't be surprised if this £500 was meant to go towards her wages for the day that she put into working on this. We'll see anyway!

 

Don't forget to mention the word 'harassment' as it might calm them down.

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Dont know if this is of help.


An employer should also be aware that copyrighted works also give rise to moral rights for the creator, which cannot be assigned. Such moral rights protect the integrity of the author and the work and include the right for the author to be identified and the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work. Where copyright in the work belongs to the employer, under the Act, the moral rights do not apply. However, to be certain that it obtains complete freedom in exploiting such works, in the interests of certainty it should obtain a written waiver of any moral rights signed by the employee in the employment contract.


http://www.legalcentre.co.uk/intellectu ... employees/

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You may try and consider checking to see if they got rid of you absolutely to the book. There was someone my boss knew who got rid of his worker after catching her putting her hand in the till. Because he was a nice boss and didn't want to give her a bad name he quietly got rid of her and didn't follow the discipline/sacking procedure. She sued for unfair dismissal and won thousands. Stupid law, despite not denying she was a thief. :roll:


You may also want to consider any problems you have had with the manager (sounds like a nasty sort) and consider raising legal action for bullying etc. Counter claims often result in a 'ok we'll both drop it' scenario.

Don't pay the money. They sound like they are suffering from the recession and had to get rid of you and are pushing their luck.

It wouldn't have costed them more than £50 and like you say it's an obscure number to just throw up.


I'm not a lawyer btw.

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Tell them to take you to court to recover their £500. I doubt they'll bother.

 

:stupid:


yes, I agree with this too..... especially as you can fight them with legal aid..... due entirely to them making you redundant and you being out of work


well you may not be able to show the actual work you did for them but you sure as hell can say you worked for them.... and indicate where your work can be seen. .....and let people know there is plenty more where that came from.



Good Luck

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I posted this question in a private forum I am on and this is what the legal guys there said. The last answer the guy is a solicitor.

 

You did what you were asked on first request.


You should still seek advice on what rights you have with regards to showing the work as your own work.

 

Not answering your question directly but just a little background.


A decent design firm will have you agree that any work you produce belongs to them given that you are being paid by them to produce it. It should be made clear that you can't showcase it without permission.


Typically a design firm signs an Intellectual Property Assignment (IPA) for the client giving up rights to the designs etc. If a firm has agreed to hand over all rights of a design and then you showcase it, it could be detrimental to the client's brand at great expense.


Simply put; you created it but you don't own it.

 

While employed by a company any work you produce belongs to the company copyright and all unless you have it written in to your contract which is very unusual.


The person who posted the above firstly stole the work to reproduce it on his own site, he should have linked to the sites he worked on and explain the work was done while working for xyz not reproduce them.


As for the demands that the company is making to the poster who knows. The poster should have just removed the work from his website and done what they asked as he had done wrong. Saying he was taking legal advice was silly that will have put the company in to defencive mode and this is the result. If he hadn't said anything, remove what they asked to be removed that would probably been the end of it.

Should he pay the companies legal bill? well normally if you loose a court case then you pay the legal fees of both sides.


He would need to speak to a solicitor who would be able to determine if the company has suffered any loss in the poster doing what he did, he they did and a court case took place then if they prove they lost out due to his actions then he would loose and have to pay for everything.


Myself If I could prove they had no loss from my actions I would allow them to take me to court for damages and let the court laugh at them.

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As you know I work in the same industry. I've always had to sign a contract stating that any work I produce on behalf of the company is not 'mine' but 'theirs' and cannot be exhibited by me in any manner without written permission. There are also usually confidentiality clauses etc. to any contract.


I would assume that you would have had a similar contract and therefore technically you would be in breach. However, it does sound as though you have acted in good faith throughout and complied with their subsequent requests.


Legally you are in the wrong but what sort of company who have made staff redundant would then pursue them for money in this manner? Either they are about to go bust and desperate for every penny or they really took a dislike to you for some strange reason.

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