To ensure that TOP STOCK DESIGN clients fully understand what they are buying when they contract us to produce creative products here’s our company policy.

Use rights, intellectual property, copyright and the nature of derivative works.

When TOP STOCK DESIGN creates a photograph, logo, brochure or other form of intellectual property, clients ask what rights they have to use the work they paid us to create. The question is of course a valid one so here’s the answer: Generally, a photograph, logo design, graphic or similar work will ultimately be used in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, presentation as a graphic on a web site, PDF file, in brochures, presentations, illustrations in trade show booths, in advertising and on letterhead, business cards and other types of media. TOP STOCK DESIGN usually grants clients permission to use a logo or other form of the final, finished product of the creative process in any way they wish as long as the final, finished product remains in its original, unaltered state after it is approved by the client, completed and delivered to the client by TOP STOCK DESIGN. In other words, a client has the right to use the finished, final product in any way they wish but only as it is in its finished, final product form; however, they do not have the right to alter it.

Altering or creating a derivative work of any form of  final, finished product in whatever completed form for any purpose other than that which was originally contracted for is not permitted and constitutes copyright infringement. For example, converting a printed version of a final, finished product into an editable digital form for the purpose of changing the final, finished  product for yet another, wholly separate purpose is not allowed without prior written and signed agreement which may or may not include terms of compensation agreed upon between TOP STOCK DESIGN and a client.

NOTE: In order to preserve the incentive for artists and authors to produce works, American copyright law grants creators a limited monopoly right to create works based on or derived from the original creation (derivative works). The law strikes an precarious balance between an author’s or artist’s right to profit from their works and other artists’ and authors’ right to build upon previous works to make new works. It is important to note that only the copyright owner of the underlying work, or one who has been granted permission to do so, may prepare derivative works. Unauthorized derivative works violate a copyright holder’s exclusive rights under the copyright act.

Why TOP STOCK DESIGN has such a policy and why we support US Copyright Laws…

We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and wish to continue providing excellent work to each of our clients. To that end we prefer to think of ourselves as partners in the growth and success of the businesses who hire us to do their creative work.  In the long run it is our belief that maintaining a symbiotic relationship with our clients benefits everyone’s business. Understandably, we do not wish to have competitors benefit from the creative processes we worked so hard to cultivate and for which our clients pay us to create for them. That is why we insist on maintaining control over the means by which we create the final, finished products for our clients and any subsequently created derivative works.

TOP STOCK DESIGN often incorporates elements in the design work we do for clients that were independently created by us and for which we hold copyright. Often these copyrighted works, (i.e.: elements such as photographs, custom made graphics and the like) are provided to clients at low or no cost depending on the scope of the project and the terms of agreement between a client and TOP STOCK DESIGN. Clearly, it is not in our interest to provide our intellectual property to competitors without adequate compensation and without clearly defining the terms of use for copyrighted works. After all, we don’t wish to compete against ourselves; therefore, we do not allow third party service providers, independent contractors, employees, partners or relatives of clients to work with our digital production files. Any attempt to do so constitutes copyright infringement.

What if a client chooses to have another creative design firm take over their work in the future?

Any materials for which TOP STOCK DESIGN holds copyright to are not transferable unless a valid use contract is first negotiated and signed. Use of our intellectual property is usually granted for a period of time which is defined in a use agreement once payment is made for such use. We do not provide our production files to anyone unless agreed to in advance of starting a project. Every project, once approved, completed and delivered to the client in its intended final, finished product form, is then considered fulfilled. Beyond that it is understood that TOP STOCK DESIGN is not obligated to take any additional action and is not obligated to provide anything else beyond what was originally contracted for. We will keep backup copies of completed projects for years. If a client chooses to use another design service then they must start the entire creation process anew. We do not provide copies of backup files to clients.

NOTE: Generally, TOP STOCK DESIGN does not enter into “work-for-hire” agreements and therefore adheres to the above stated policy unless a prior arrangement for such type of work is expressly made.


Who gets what when all is said and done?

“When you contract a carpenter to build a home for you don’t get his tools with the house when it’s finished.”

By analogy the above quote compactly explains what TOP STOCK DESIGN’S policy is regarding how and what we produce for our clients and what it is that a client receives when a job is completed.

In today’s visual arts industry much of the production processes that were traditionally accomplished by hand are now handled by computers and the software that runs on them. TOP STOCK DESIGN uses high end computer systems and many professional level industry standard software applications and output devices to produce the final, finished products that our clients contract us to create. TOP STOCK DESIGN does not provide the digital production files that were used to create the respective final, finished products unless specifically requested and contracted for prior to actually starting a project.

TOP STOCK DESIGN adheres to industry accepted parameters and the copyright laws of the United States which define all forms of intellectual property and the function of the tools that are used to create such intellectual property as well as all forms of their representation as final, finished products. These laws clearly define the role of digital production files as they are used in the creation of final, finished products such as printed logos, brochures, books, posters, flyers and/or similar printed materials. As defined by US copyright and intellectual property laws digital production files are legally classified as interim parts of the process of creating final, finished products and are not inherently and inextricably part of the final, finished product. Copyright laws protect both the interests of the client and the creator.

Within the context of this policy statement, the digital files that are created and used during the process of producing a final, finished product for a TOP STOCK DESIGN client are defined as our digital production files.

Unless specified and agreed to before any work is started, digital production files are not considered part of what we are normally contracted to produce and are consequently not part of the purchase price of any finished product. As the law defines, our digital production files and any associated digital files, images and their digital representations used to create a final product are strictly components of and are, by definition, the digital tools we use during the process of creating a finished product for TOP STOCK DESIGN clients.

If a client asks for and requires that we create digital files that will ultimately or potentially be used to create derivative works from our production files by the client, their employees, partners, associates or third party consigns a client must first ask for and subsequently specify exactly what they want us to produce before a project is started. We will then estimate and subsequently invoice for whatever form of final product we’re asked to produce whether it be books, brochures, a web site. logos or digital files that are intended to be used to create derivative works.

In virtually all instances, as, for example, when TOP STOCK DESIGN creates a logo design for a client to be used on a web site, the final product necessarily is a digital file of the logo because the media on which the final product is used on is itself a digital media. In this example, displaying a digital representation of a logo on a web site is the intended purpose and subsequently defines what its form becomes as a final product. In such a case use of a logo as a digital file is appropriate and allowed because the digital production files used to create the electronic logo are not actually the final form of the product even though they are both in digital form. In this case, the final product is a logo that is saved in a final form that is generated by combining its separate parts – our digital production files.

Definitions

What does “Final, Finished Product” mean? 
A “final, finished product” is the completed and delivered to the client form of the project that TOP STOCK DESIGN contracted to create. i.e.: a brochure, logo, book, “camera ready” advertisement, web site or any other final, completed form of the project we were hired to deliver to the client. 
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What does “Intellectual Property” mean? 
As US copyright law defines is “Intellectual property” refers to original creations in the fields of literature and the arts. Most countries in the world provide automatic copyright protection to any item of intellectual property at the instant the item is created. At the instant a photo is taken, it automatically becomes the “intellectual property” of the photographer who took it. It makes no difference what the subject is or why the photograph was taken. 
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What is “Copyright Infringement”? 
Legally, the person who holds the copyright to a photo or other applicable product of the creative process has the absolute right to control how you use that photo or artistic work — or to deny you the right to use that photo or creative work at all. Any unauthorized usage is an “infringement” of the copyright.   This INCLUDES using the picture for “reference” in a derivative work.  It also includes use of images BEYOND that which has been legitimately purchased.  For example, offering images for resale without first obtaining a template license would be an infringement of copyright. Many people don’t realize just how far reaching and inclusive copyright law really is.  For example, there’s a common misconception that any image appearing on a web site may be downloaded and “saved” to disk. This is absolutely not the case. The very act of saving a copyrighted image to your local disk — regardless of whether you ever do anything else with the image or not — constitutes a copyright infringement. And infringements large and small are “actionable” (i.e., can be grounds for a lawsuit.) 
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What is a “Derivative Work”? 
If you take any part of a graphic, writing, or music composition and change it or make something else out of it, you have made a derivative work. The U.S. Congress revised the federal copyright statute in 1976 to provide copyright owners with statutory protection for derivative works. A derivative work can take the form of “any . . . work [that] may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represents an original work of authorship, is a ‘derivative work.'” (emphasis added) 17 U.S.C. § 101 (1994). In short, a derivative work is a whole work based on one or more other whole works and creating a derivative work without permission is illegal. Click to read the law as it is defined by the » US Copyright Office. PDF file symbol (PDF)

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Examples of what would constitute a derivative work:

    • If you open a graphic in any paint or imaging program and change even one pixel of color or save it in a different format (i.e.: jpg to gif); then you have made a derivative.
    • If you take one graphic and incorporate pieces of it into your own creation then you have made a derivative.
    • If you change the color, perspective or size (even using html values to change the size) then you have created a derivative.
    • If you take a background graphic and use it for a card, wallpaper, or any other use not originally intended then you have made a derivative.
    • When you compress a graphic it takes pixels of color out. This makes them load faster but reduces the quality and is also a derivative.If you have any questions about the contents of this document, please contact our office. » Back to Top of Page

This policy is subject to change at our sole discretion and its most current version supersedes all previous versions.