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Question of Ownership

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Aaron CadieuxQuestion of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 5:15:05 pm

Hey all,

I'm prepared for the usual verbal lashing here, but once again, I need some advice regarding my job. I've been editing a video for a local client. The video is for a direct-response campaign for a new product. I came up with an animation for the product name. The client has decided that he wants that animation to also serve as the official logo for this new product. I am an in-house video production specialist. They've asked me to create a high-res file of this logo for the client to use in print media. I am not a graphic designer. I am not paid to be a graphic designer. Should I be seeing additional royalties for this logo since it was my idea? Is there any way for me to prevent the use of the logo since it was my idea? Thanks.

-Aaron


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David Roth WeissRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:01:34 pm

No!!! You are an "at will" paid employee. You serve at the will of your employers and what you create for them and their clients is theirs, not yours.

Create the logo, give it to your bosses to give to the client, and then go do something creative with your time.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:26:56 pm

Aaron, consider this "value added" service. Your boss should be charging extra for it if he's smart, but you are not getting paid extra for it or getting a royalty off of it. What you *should* do though is start up a folder of "Aaron's home runs", and put in it a note about how you brought the added value and made something the client didn't even know he needed, but greatly valued. Do this any time you do something outstanding or beyond the call, file it instead of trumpeting it too much. You put all these great little things and any thank-you appreciation notes from clients in the file folder and then you bring that file to the meeting with your boss a year from now, when it is time for the employee evaluation and raise discussion. You show the contents of that folder and you will be in a strong position to ask for more money. If your boss is halfway good at HIS job, he'll already have a similar file on you, but some bosses only keep an "oh $%#^)" file and not so much an "attaboy" file, assuming that excellence should be the default state for all employees at all times. So don't assume someone else remembers every good thing you did in a year; keep a file for yourself. It will also be a source for good resume' material later in life.

Keep plugging away, sounds like you're making some progress.


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Mike CohenRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:23:21 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "Should I be seeing additional royalties for this logo since it was my idea? Is there any way for me to prevent the use of the logo since it was my idea?"

Aaron,

Who is paying you? The client or your boss? In either case, you are doing work for hire and the client owns the final product.

End of story in most cases.

Mike Cohen


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Aaron CadieuxRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 9:32:43 pm

Mike,

My boss is paying me. I am a salaried employee. I just thought this was a unique situation. I am a video production specialist. I do video production for my bosses. I am not a graphic designer, nor do I pretend to be a graphic designer. I just think it's unfair that my animation is now going to be used as a logo for the print-end of this direct-buy campaign. It's not like my boss came to me and said "Aaron, I need you to design a logo for X". It ended up being "Aaron, the client wants to use the animation you did as the logo for X. Make me a high-res file of it to send to the client". Meanwhile my boss is going to send a heafty bill the client for the creation of the logo when it was my idea and creative effort in the first place. The client never even asked us to design a logo, it just happens that my animation makes for a good logo. This whole thing just strikes me as a unique gray area.

If my boss asked me to take a time out from video production to go out and cut his grass for him, would anyone tell me that I am not entitled to additional compensation since I'm his employee? Where does one draw a line?

Best,

Aaron



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David Roth WeissRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 10:37:05 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "If my boss asked me to take a time out from video production to go out and cut his grass for him, would anyone tell me that I am not entitled to additional compensation since I'm his employee? Where does one draw a line? "

Aaron,

If your boss requires you to mow the lawn, you have two choices, you can mow the lawn, or respectfully resign. If you simply refuse to mow the lawn he could fire you for insubordination, and he'd be well within his rights to do so. Furthermore, he'd probably be relieved of any responsibility to pay unemployment benefits.

Sorry buddy, but as usual, you ask for answers, but you don't want to hear the answers unless they line-up with your view of the world.

As I explained to you before, as an "at will" employee, you work at the will of your employer. That means you work on what he asks you to work on, and his ability to make a profit on your work is not only acceptable, it's expected.

Meanwhile, I really have to wonder, what precisely is your thought process? Where do you draw the line?

Should someone who decorates cupcakes be entitled to a share of each cupcake? Should someone who paints cars be entitled to something extra on the sale of each car? And, are their bosses not entitled to make a profit off of each unit sold?

Are you familiar with the term called capitalism? Wake up Aaron, communism didn't work.



David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Aaron CadieuxRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:22:33 pm

Thanks for your opinions on this guys. I'll leave this thread at that as to not start an ethical/moral debate on the cow.



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Mark SuszkoRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 12:49:49 am

I feel like I need to get this in at the last minute, since you brought up mowing the lawn. It happened a looonnng time ago but I swear it is true.

Long ago, I interviewed for a job and had passed all the hoops but for the last guy, the Big Guy. Time to interview with him. Just before I go in, the guy who will be my supervisor if I win the interview tells me: "...whatever the Big Guy says, just kind of let it float on by and try not to engage, trust me". We chatted briefly, the B.G and I, and then he wanted to express to me something of his management style and expectations.

He told me of the time he was running a small Public Relations shop in the 50's; He was boss then over a bullpen full of copy writers and paste-up artists, and they were very busy and overworked. He himself was telling me this. One week the maintenance man for the building is off on vacation or whatever, he continues, and the lawn in front of the building is getting a little shaggy. He tells me that he went over to one of his copy writers (whom I now realize was incredibly overworked as was everybody under this guy) and asked him if he'd put his client work on hold and go out and mow the lawn, so the public appearance of the business looked good to the passers-by. Big Guy was a huge fan of surface appearances over actual, meaningful work, I was later to learn. Back to the story: Well, he goes on to say, the copy writer told him that lawn care was outside the job description and that these ads weren't going to get delivererd to the newspaper on time if he had to stop and go mow grass for an hour. The Big Guy's punchline to this story goes:

".... so I FIRED his ASS!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!"( just about wetting himself laughing at this line, and looking to see my reaction of approval and complete understanding).

The supervisor is in the room, sitting out of Big Guy's eyeline, and his eyes are alternating between rolling up in his sockets in embarrassment, and pleading with me: "Just let it go, roll with it".


So I tried my best, based on refereeing a number of family squabbles, to walk the tightrope and in replying, I allowed as to that it is sometimes a difficult choice to know which principle takes priority at any one moment: certainly I could understand that it was important that the agency's public face and reputation be maintained at a consistent high level. But deadlines are deadlines and the clients pay money for ads, not gardening. Then I made some kind of joke, I don't remember what it was now, might have been a joke about calling a lawn care client company to offer a trade-out of a mowing job in exchange for a free ad and thus killing two birds... but it was corny enough to throw the whole icky question off track and onto something else. I made my D-20 save roll versus bi-polar, apparently. The Big Guy went on to describe that the agency had failed soon afterwards, and again, I bit my lip and just waited the interview out. Soon enough he wrapped up and clapped me on the back to welcome me into the Happy Family.

This guy was quite a tyrant of a manager, and he was always pressuring underlings to take on little extra chores for him, like go out in the cold at 4:30 PM and clean the ice and snow off his car's windows and shovel the car out, so he could make his getaway right at five. Or re-type his notes into the email system for him. I have tons more stories but I'll spare you. As bad as Big Guy was, though the Supe was his opposite and there was little I wouldn't do to please that supervisor, I was constantly stretching myself on learning this or that. Pulling free overtime, because the work was fun. And he often went to bat for me.

Why do I bring this up and what are you and I supposed to get out of it? Well, first Aaron, you're going to come up against difficult people in life, and you will need to keep a clear head and be diplomatic sometimes, don't let your ego blind you, let the other guy be a slave to his ego, and you can use that against him sometimes. By playing it cool you buy time to make a better plan, a better response.

Second, though the Big Guy was kind of a loon, I did understand and appreciate his point about the appearances and image of the company being important, because fair or not that is often how things are judged, and also I got it that he was saying that he had a right to be arbitrary and capricious and that if you wanted to work for him you should accept that up front or be sorry later.

It was relatively rare that I had to work directly with Big Guy, The Super was a great buffer and shield; he was the graphite-boron rods when Big Guy and I were spitting neutrons. And back in the day, there were a couple times where we had pretty hot arguments and one time where I swear I was *this close* to taking a swing on the guy. But I never quite did. I matured. I waited him out, he left after not that long of a time, and things went a lot better for a long time after.

You're still young Aaron, you have drive and ambition and you want to prove yourself and get recognition and these are all very good qualities. But you need to work on picking the specific battles, picking "which hill you want to die on". At this stage of your game, when you are work for hire, getting credit and extra money for the logo is not really important. You are a commodity, expressed in hours, and you get paid for the hours, good or bad, as long as you execute on deadline. It really is not "extra" work to render out a still after you made the animation, that's basically free money right there, and your attitude should be one of "hey how 'bout that, boss; I stretched a bloop single into a double, cool. Yay for our team." What you want, as I posted earlier, is to put these little miracles in the bank, to track and record them and have them at your fingertips to remind folks when the time comes. That time is not now. I see a little of my younger self in you and so I guess I'm trying to tell my younger self these things, but perhaps some of it will be of use to you as well. Play along, don't get greedy, keep making yourself more and more indispensable while you build your reputation and experience level, and at some point, everyone who counts will know your true worth and treat you as you should be treated. Your moment will come, when you yourself are ready enough to recognize it without some geezer's advice.

For now, I counsel patience and forbearance.







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Ron LindeboomRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 12:57:23 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Aaron, you have drive and ambition and you want to prove yourself and get recognition and these are all very good qualities. But you need to work on picking the specific battles, picking 'which hill you want to die on'."

This is a great way to end a great story, Mark. A wonderful read with my morning coffee. ;o)

One of the adages that I use from time-to-time here with our team is "Decide which battles you are willing to lose, that help you win the war."

As you say, not every "hill" is worth dieing for. But as you also implied: making "molehills" into the cause célèbre is simply foolish. (The mental image conjured up is actually quite funny: our hearty hero laying dead on the side of his molehill, a victim of the gallant fight to take the top!)

Mark, it is an honor to have you as a part of Creative COW.

Ron & Kathlyn


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Mark SuszkoRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:31:39 pm

Just remember; I retain all the film rights. :-)


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Ron LindeboomRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 5, 2010 at 11:10:53 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "If my boss asked me to take a time out from video production to go out and cut his grass for him, would anyone tell me that I am not entitled to additional compensation since I'm his employee? Where does one draw a line?"

Aaron,

Nearly everyday I ask my employees to "expand their job descriptions" by adding new areas of duties to their job descriptions. (No, I do NOT add them with the intention of making sure that they do many jobs in the same amount of time in which they realistically can only do a few. But I DO have them working on jobs that were once the purview of others in the company. We do it so that we can each therefore step in and fill the shoes of each other when a certain type of job is piling up, which guarantees our company's molbility and security, as well as the security of their jobs. We all "wear 20 different hats" in this company and we once had an employee who, like you, only wanted to work on one job -- and that, only whenever he felt like getting around to it. He no longer works for our company. He was the only one we've ever dismissed because of his work ethic (or lack thereof)).

I really do hate to be hard on you but you really are what we call a "toxic employee" and if you were on this team...well, let's just say that you wouldn't be.

You really need to figure out that you are not someone that really should be working for others. You really are someone who needs to work for yourself. Then, you might get a little relativity and a bit more reality than you currently possess.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom
CEO, CreativeCOW.net

Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry


First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Gandhi


Better is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with the poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows no victory or defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt





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Mike CohenRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:16:30 pm

[Aaron Cadieux] "....I am a video production specialist. I do video production for my bosses. I am not a graphic designer, nor do I pretend to be a graphic designer. I just think it's unfair that my animation is now going to be used as a logo for the print-end....."

No

Know your place young one.

When you work for someone else, this is how it works.

Don't sell yourself short. If you, as a video production specialist, created a graphic that a client loves, guess what - you are now a graphic designer!

Mike


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Simon StuttsRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:45:44 am

So...you did a good job, went above and beyond, the client apparently LOVED it and now you are trying to sabotage it? I don't get it, dude. If its about the money, then...you do not work for the client. You work for your boss. On salary, yeah? If your boss wants to charge a fee for design services, or whatever extra time it takes to generate a high-res still, then ducky for him. You make your salary. If you need/want more, re-negotiate or start picking up freelance work.

Also: No one gets royalties from logos. You should never "rent" your visual identity from someone else. Own it or find a new designer.

[Aaron Cadieux] I am not a graphic designer. I am not paid to be a graphic designer.

Be careful, sir...
This is a sentence that the 20 year old who will work for 2/3rds of your salary will never say.


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walter biscardiRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 1:37:40 pm

No you don't own it, you're not owed anything extra. You created the logo as part of your job.



Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" featuring Sigourney Weaver coming soon.

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Steve KownackiRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:11:36 pm

Hence the phrase "other duties as assigned" when you are hired. You do what you are asked/told to do.

And reiterating the others: the person who pays you owns it. My Dad created many things and processes for the company he worked for which in turn were granted patents. He got his paycheck and the occasional atta boy or a bonus.



Steve



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Mick HaenslerRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 8:18:14 pm

When I was the salaried Director of Multimedia for a high end wedding and conference center, the only thing in my job description was AV work. I had to be at every event that involved my department. Sometimes I would have to sit there for hours babysitting one podium mic. Usually on those times I would go and see if the banquet or kitchen staff needed some help. I did everything from prep work to running food to the buffet line to carving steamship round. None of it was even close to my job description but I did it willingly because we all had pride in what we did, we were "simply the best" as the song says. I did however get pretty burned out after 3 years of 50-80 weeks with no raise.

When I quit they decided not to replace me and instead paired down services in my department and the GM took over most of my duties. After he got canned I got a call from the owner who wanted me back on contract with my new company since the GM and I are the only two who know how to run the system. I'm here right now banking some serious coin while I type this. I left on good terms, maintained the relationship, gave them free tech advice after I left, and am now being amply rewarded for it.

I hire freelancers on a regular basis, I ask them to do all sorts of things that wouldn't fit in their job description. The guys I keep hiring are the ones who say "anything you need dude"!! Try it sometime.



Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Mike CohenRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 6, 2010 at 9:07:00 pm

Not to belabor the point, but when you are a salaried employee, pretty much whatever it takes to get the job done is in your job description.

What sort of things have I done over the years?

Loading and unloading pallets from trucks.
An all night editing session with trips to and from Chicago at either end.
While one of our employees was on an extended vacation with his family I did his entire job as well as my own for 4 weeks.
Rented, installed and operated an HD projector and sound board in a rented 1000 seat theater in NY.

Just yesterday I made this attractive display stand for use at our exhibit booth. Not for praise - not for monetary gain, but because it is good for business.



Yep, Aaron and anyone else who questions their work assignments - you do what you have to do to get the job done, service the client, make profit for your employer.

Mike Cohen


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Timothy J. AllenRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 3:45:00 am

I was just about to wrap up my work for the day when I ran across this thread. I think any of us who have worked our way up through the ranks did so because we were always willing to grab a broom if asked - or volunteer for other tasks anytime we can do that and still get our primary duties done.

I will offer one counterpoint that hasn't been mentioned. There is a time not to do things that your boss asks you to do. Put simply, it's when what they are asking you to do is unethical or illegal. (Notice I didn't say "and" illegal, I said "or".)

By the way, if I'm hired to edit and someone wants me to wash dishes when I'm there, I'll do it. But, I'm a much better value as an Editor than as a dishwasher - especially since I still charge the same rate for either task. ;-)



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Micah McDowellRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 8:57:08 pm

My job description originally said "Video Editor." Quite honestly, that's only a tiny fraction of what I do, and if I really only edited on an Avid like I learned in college, I'd be nearly useless.

I've taught myself After Effects, repaired and built computers, developed graphics skills with everything from iPhone apps to websites to billboards, hung projectors, directed cameras, repaired, bought, and sold equipment, and just about anything else you can think of; all while on the job as an "editor."

Whenever I do something outside of my area of expertise, I consider it a challenge to be conquered. And, I think most employers appreciate that. Learn to love it.


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Question of Ownership
by on Apr 7, 2010 at 11:53:17 pm

Hey Aaron,

If you are to feel sorry for someone, do think about the designer who reputedly designed a logo for $20 for a company called Nike.

As the days of residuals and payments for outstanding brilliance are coming to an end, keep in mind that if this new product is the new "Nike", that one thing no one can take from you, is that you designed their logo - and on your CV for a pay-rise or even a new job, this little gem will be invaluable.

Personally, I would not be afraid of asking for a quote from the end client for my portfolio about my contribution. In my firm, I always forward them to my employees when a client says something nice about their (actually ours) work - it is a good motivator all round, and encourages continued creative excellence :-)


All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Latest video to watch here:


Mac Million Ltd. - HD Production & Editing
Blog: http://macmillionltd.blogspot.com


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