I am an online graphic designer – what legal documents do I need?

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You are creative, talented and as busy as hell and the last thing you want to be doing is mucking around on the internet looking for legal templates, or worse, having to cobble together a whole lots of clauses from the shady free ones you and your friends have been collecting.

As a graphic designer in the online space, apart from your creative genius, your brain, your emotions, yours hands and your tools of the trade, your most valuable asset is your creative work.

What do I mean by that ? Your creative works could be anything from drawings, paintings, designs, graphics, images, photographs, logos, artwork and other things, it is the way you manifest your ideas into material form.

So what legal documents do you need?

Website Documents

You should have three things on your website, website terms of use, privacy policy and disclaimers.

Website terms of use.

Your website terms and conditions are the metaphorical contract between you and the website visitors. In part of the terms and conditions you will have a copyright notice which will put the website visitor on notice about the copyright on the content of your site. It provides a license to for the website visitor to use the website as per your terms of use (usually personal use only). Sets boundaries for permitted conduct – republishing with attribution Sets boundaries regarding prohibited conduct – like stealing, republishing (without permission)

Privacy Policy

Many countries like Australia and parts of some countries (different states in the USA) require all websites to have a privacy policy

Because we collect third party information on or via our websites like   names, credit card details, email addresses we must have this policy in place. Even if it is not mandatory in your country, because we are online it means we are accessible in other countries.

Disclaimer

This limit your liability on your website. The main purpose is to make sure the information on your site will not be improperly relied upon. This is important, not just for your design services or artwork but for third party content on your site.

Graphic Design Client Contract

This document is given to every client prior to work commencing. It is a legally binding between you and the client. The document contains the clear parameters of the relationship. I have a Graphic Design Client Contract here in my shop.

They contain:

  1. DETAILS OF THE SERVICE YOU ARE OFFERING – so they can’t keep changing the goalposts
  2. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES – like how many creative changes etc
  3. FEES AND SERVICE COSTS – this includes dates so you have all those promises in writing
  4. REFUND POLICY – just in case
  5. TERMINATION OPTIONS – because sometimes things don’t work out
  6. CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE – because you don’t want people stealing your drafts etc.
  7. DISPUTE RESOLUTION CLAUSE – because it is easier to try to communicate and mediate than go straight to litigation
  8. GOVERNING LAW – because, well, this is a legal process
  9. DISCLAIMER CLAUSES – so no one makes any crazy assumptions about what is going on
  10. NO GUARANTEE CLAUSES – because, well it’s kind of important that nothing is perfectly guarantee(able)

If you need more information on the guts of a contract – click here for my blog on contracts.

SUMMARY

So, as a Graphic designer, you need to have 4 documents., website documents (website terms of use, privacy policy and a disclaimer (that is 3) and a client contract (number 4).

There are other legal considerations to make like trademarking your brand, lodging copyright notices for your work (depending on your location) and lodging design applications, depending on your work.

So tell me, how do your client agreements measure up? If they need help, you need help! Grab my FREE legal checklist here or purchase a client agreement template by clicking here.