Know Your Rights! 4 Must-Have Clauses In A Contract

Freelance writer, you’ve learned to never work without a written contract, but it’s hard to like contracts. They are impossible to read, tedious and boring, and you can’t wait to sign this piece of paper to do so and get to work. Well, this message is there to help you.

Contracts are essential to a designer’s career. Despite your concerns about legal documents, it is worth going into some specific details that can make a big difference in practice.

From a legal point of view, these are rights that any independent designer should not try to assign by way of waiver or assignment.

This will not always be possible, but keep in mind that any “no” you get from a client can be used as leverage to convince them to pay more for your design work. Here’s what to look for.

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1. Portfolio viewing rights and moral rights

Portfolio rights are simply permission to post the work in your portfolio once completed. Few customers find it difficult to grant it to you (as long as it is for personal use only). However, if you have a temporary employment contract, these rights are not automatically granted.

In fact, you may need to ask them if you want to add screenshots of your work or reproductions to your own website.

The rights of viewing a portfolio generally confiscate another set of rights called “moral rights”. Moral rights include the right to be appointed, the right to publish a work under a pseudonym or anonymously and the right to the integrity of the work.

It doesn’t do any good if your design is completely destroyed by someone else after you put it back, especially if your name is attached to it.

Sell Your Work, Not Your Rights to It

The legal implications of moral rights are quite complicated, also because they vary from state to state. They are inalienable in most European countries, i. H. You cannot sell them in a contract.

In the United States, on the other hand, waiver of moral rights is fairly common for any job ordered.

Know Your Rights! 4 Must-Have Clauses In A Contract

As a creative professional, you want to limit them as much as possible. Therefore, check if there is a clause asking you to abstain from it and try to delete it or at least reduce its scope, as in this example of an illustration contract clause.

“Right of the artist to be recognized as an author. Artists may use works from the artist’s portfolio (including, but not limited to, websites that display works by the artist). The curator and the artist agree that the curator must identify the artist as the creator of the work when asked. The curator is not proactively required to post the artist’s name with the work, but should not attempt to mislead others that the work was not created by an artist . “

2. Rights to unused sketches

Graphic designer, it’s special for you! You have therefore created a series of logo ideas or certain characters and different images to facilitate customer choice. Even if the client doesn’t like them, these are probably good ideas that can be used elsewhere in your work.

Make sure you can “recycle” your unused sketches and designs with a specific layout that allows you to keep unused designs without restriction.

For example:

The client asks a designer to create [description of the work]. The work includes only the final deliverable art and no preliminary work or sketches.

Give Permission, Not Your Rights

Developers can do the same with a “design tools” clause. Do you have code or font snippets that you can incorporate into multiple projects? These are your tools. It is not because they are in a client’s project that the client has the tools.

Instead, grant the customer permission to continue using the tools, as in this example:

“Designer tools. The designer may include certain designer tools in the delivery items. “Design tools” are all design tools developed or used by Designer for the execution of services, including but not limited to: existing and newly developed software, web authoring tools, fonts and application tools. In the event that the design tools are integrated into a final deliverable. Designer grants the client a royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide and non-exclusive license to use the designer tools to the extent necessary to use the final results. Designer retains all other rights to Designer tools. “

Know Your Rights! 4 Must-Have Clauses In A Contract

The safety net

In some cases, you may want to solve the opposite problem: what if someone sees your sketches in the proposal and decides to copy the idea without hiring it? If you’re afraid of it, add a privacy statement to each suggestion you send.

3. The right to leave

If things go wrong halfway through the project, there is a desire to drop the project and reduce losses. Whoa … not so fast. Once you have signed a contract, you are legally required to complete the project and deliver the promised results.

This is especially bad if you are working on fixed costs, as an estimation error in the pricing of the project can result in wasted time and money.

Last Exit Strategy

While launch costs usually take care of things on the client side, it’s up to you to prepare an emergency parachute for you, the service provider. Try adding the option to terminate the agreement within a reasonable time, as in this advisory agreement:

Know Your Rights! 4 Must-Have Clauses In A Contract

“Termination. Either party may terminate the contract at any time upon written request. In the event of termination, the company pays the advisor all unpaid amounts due for services provided prior to termination.”

4. The right to resolve disputes in your area

This right is generally granted to consumers by law. Consumers are usually the weakest party in litigation with a large company, and litigation in another country is very expensive. For example, consumers in the European Union can sue their local court at any time.

However, you are self-employed in design agreements. Therefore, read the jurisdictional clause before signing a contract. If your client is in the same city as you, this is not a problem. However, if your client is in a different location, they will likely want the arrangements to be in accordance with their jurisdiction and law. It is far from the norm.

Know Your Rights! 4 Must-Have Clauses In A Contract

It is always worth negotiating this part, and a good compromise suggests a neutral place which, at least, does not confer an unfair advantage on any of the parties. You can also consider options like online mediation and arbitration: always a great idea that saves everyone a lot of money if things go south.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Veronica Picciafuoco for Veronica is the content director of, the home page of free open source legal documents. She has a legal background and works closely with tech startups and independent designers in Brooklyn, NY.

Disclaimer          : This article is intended to provide you with useful information. However, it should not be treated as legal advice. All the legal documents mentioned are for reference only. The author,, Docracy and the original authors of the cited documents decline any responsibility related to the use of this material without an authorized representative.

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