Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Florida

Intellectual Property Issue

I work as a freelance graphic designer

for a company inside Universal

Studios here in Orlando, FL.

Recently, my client has refused to

pay me for some jobs and has now

fired me. However, he wants the

master templates for over 60 past

jobs. I have no contract with him and

when mentioning that I may doing

some other design work for a similiar

company in Myrtle Beach, he flipped

out and said he was seeking legal

advice on how to stop me. I have no

non-compete clause with him or his

company. My question was, am I in

any way obligated to give him the

masters or can I sell them to him at

a price without facing legal

repercussion from him?

Asked on 4/20/08, 6:53 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Alan Wagner Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore P.A.

Re: Intellectual Property Issue

It depends on your deal. Usually the rights remain with the artist, unless it was a work for hite.

Go to www . pto . gov and you will find lots and lots of information on this topic.

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Answered on 4/20/08, 7:45 pm
Phillip Day Law Offices of Phillip Day, P.L.

Re: Intellectual Property Issue

If you truly are a freelancer such that you are an independent contractor and no employee relationship was established nor any other agreement, the general rule is that your underlying work (I assume the masters) belongs to you. As the previous poster recommended, google the term "work for hire" and you will find insurmountable detail on this legal topic. This is a common issue with photography studios. Remember when you were a kid and as a senior in highschool you go out and get your class pictures. To your amazement, I bet you couldn't believe that if you wanted additional photos or wallet sizes you had to go back to the original photographer for more prints and that you weren't allowed to make copies by taking it to a kinko's or 60 minute photo. Nowadays, with digital photography, artists are having more difficult time telling the client they can't have a digital copy but clients will ask and to get more business, the artist complies. My long winded point is that independent artists are entitled to the underlying creation and that the purchaser is only buying what was made and not the ability to copy it. Again, assuming no other contractual or employee relationship, you may have more rights than you realize. As always, contact a qualified intellectual property attorney that can explain your options. Hope this helps.

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Answered on 4/20/08, 11:13 pm
Ruben Alcoba Alcoba & Associates, P.A.

Re: Intellectual Property Issue

if the work was not a work for hire, then you are the owner of your copyrighted work.

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Answered on 4/26/08, 9:56 pm

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