Do You Own That Image?

If you hire a designer or photographer to help you rebrand, do you own the work they do for you?  Well, that depends on if you have the right contract in place that says so - this is called a Work For Hire or Independent Contractor Agreement.  

What does that mean? Well, owning copyright means that the creator of the ‘work’ - meaning words, pictures, design, code, etc. has the exclusive right to distribute that work.  If you own your logo or a fabulous picture of the Empire State Building, anyone who tries to use it without your permission is committing copyright infringement.

But what if your photographer took a fabulous picture of you in front of the Empire State Building? Who owns that?  It all depends on your agreement. Technically he/she owns that picture and the rights to display it UNLESS they turn the copyright over to you in your agreement.

Same with your VA - that amazing blog post they wrote for you that’s now on your website?  Technically it’s theirs. Often even the photographers or designers may not be aware of this legal issue, I’ve seen a lot of agreements that aren’t worded correctly and end up biting someone in the butt.

What if you use Canva to create an image or logo? Be careful, because you may not own it.

Anything you produce in Canva that utilizes ANYTHING from the image library (free or paid) is not yours and you are only permitted to use it under their rules. This means that you do not own it and you cannot trademark it.  

If you plan to trademark your logo, make sure you are using images you’ve created yourself or paid a designer to create for you (and that they have turned over the copyright to you) or those basic shapes and fonts as noted below.

Here’s some info direct from Canva’s Terms of Use:

“Logos cannot contain elements from Canva’s image library, either free or paid, as per section 4i of our license agreements. However, basic shapes, lines, free fonts and our pre-made logo layouts and the elements contained in those layouts may be used in logos. You’re also welcome to use your own elements that you upload to Canva to create your logo.”  

The deal with logos and trademark is that they MUST be unique to your business, meaning they can’t have images or details that someone else is already using or has the rights to use.

It may seem complicated, but the basic rules to follow are to: 1. Make sure you have the right agreement in place before you hire someone, and 2. Make sure when creating an image, especially a logo, it is original to you before you trademark it.