Does a print shop owner have any legal rights to anything they create, design and print?

UPDATED: Nov 22, 2010

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Does a print shop owner have any legal rights to anything they create, design and print?

In other words, what exactly belongs to the customer and what belongs to the printer when a project is produced? Regarding photos, text, design, etc.

Asked on November 22, 2010 under Business Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) Anything provided by the customer (e.g. text in a Word file; a logo or design; artwork) is the customer's unless the customer specifically transfers it to the print shop's ownership.

2) Anything the print shop creates for the customer as a specifically commissioned item--e.g. something the customer is paying the printshop to make--is a "work for hire" and the rights thereto will belong to the customer, the same way that anything made by an employee as part of his job is his employer's. So if the print shop does page design, or comes up with graphics, for the customer, those will belong to the customer IF he paid for them; if he didn't pay, he breached the contract and he doesn't get the rights to them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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