companies whose work it would be valuable to show—
are the most vigilant in maintaining their rights.
I made a distinction between my
work as a Designer/Art Director
and my work as a Creative Director.
CDs are less hands-on and rely
heavily on the talent of other
designers and art directors. I
wanted to make sure the right
people got credit for the work.
Teamwork and individual rights
With the growing need for groups of people
with different roles to work collaboratively, it
becomes more important for the artist or designer to
document such involvement. From the beginning,
your contract should clarify the scope of your
involvement. If you will be responsible for a project
section, or a specific group of illustrations or layouts,
keep copies of your process work. If, as sometimes happens, you are called upon to
handle more material than was originally planned, make sure that the change is also
documented, not just to make sure that you are appropriately paid, but so you can
ask for rights to show the material.
Any time you provide an image at a resolution or in a format that would allow
the work to be edited or printed, you could become the victim of art piracy. Besides
threatening to sue, and then really doing it, what can you do to protect your work?
In the U.S. and Europe, copyright is implied without the need for a symbol or
any registration. However, you can't sue for copyright infringement without register-
ing the work. In the U.S., you have five years after you create something to register.
If you register before a copyright infringement—particularly if you did so within the
first three months of the work's creation—your chances for winning a case are higher.
You can register your work online for $35 ( www.copyright.gov/eco/index.html) by fill-
ing in the form and uploading a copy of your work in an acceptable file format. There
is a complete list online, but it is exhaustive and covers all major formats in a variety
of media types. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to register, and the one with
the shortest government processing time. Although it will still take from two to six
Detailed copyright protection info
If you are hoping to use your portfolio to license your artwork, need to hire illustrators for
your design projects, or are a freelancer hoping to protect your creative rights, check out
Nolo Press's aptly named, “Protect Your Artwork” ( www.nolo.com). It includes detailed
copyright information and several useful contracts and agreements.