I'm a graphic designer working freelance. I have recently made a logo for a local company - foolishly, I did the work with no contract, but will not send the files until I've been paid and received the signed contract back. I just made a contract where I agreed to give the rights to the logo to the client after receiving payment; however, it's also stipulated that they cannot alter the logo in any way except for changing its size - unless they have my written consent, or come to me to change it. They are objecting to this standard contract stipulation, which seems unreasonable to me. If I remove this stipulation, I lose any right to the logo. What should I do?
1 Answer from Attorneys
In the United States, there are no "moral rights" for authors under the law. This is what you are asking about. In other countries, especially in Europe, artists have the right to control alteration of their work once it is sold. Sorry, but not in the U.S. Once you transfer rights in your work, the buyer has the right to do with it whatever they choose. Contrary to your statement, it is NOT a "standard contract stipulation" for a graphic designer in America to control rights to a work they design for someone else. The company is within their rights to refuse your request, and is behaving reasonably. Also, the provision for "right of first refusal" to do changes is usually unacceptable for the simple reason that if a company is unhappy with the work, they probably want someone else to attempt a different version. Presumably, you negotiated a fee you are happy with and should accept it in exchange for your work.
The above is for general information only and should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship.