Protecting Your Work Product on a Collaborative Project

Any creative business working in the special events industry knows that the beautiful image below showcases the work of many different collaborators.  While the “author” of the image itself is the photographer (in this case, Judy Pak) and all usage permissions run to her, there isn’t a single “author” here for the event itself, although a strong argument can certainly be made that the planner and event designer have perhaps a larger role in creating the overall event experience.

Mary Lee Herrington, Esq.

Although most people know that the copyright holder of the image is the photographer and are also aware of the photo usage etiquette among the vendor team, what I find many business owners don’t think enough about is all the work product that went into creating this event in the months prior – the work and drafts of work that are often disseminated to the various vendor team members and clients (e.g., spreadsheets, creative briefs, floor plans, event design renderings, PhotoShop templates, stationery lay-outs).  It is not uncommon to hear of former clients as well as freelancers and interns deciding to launch their own business following their experience working in the industry and presumably having access to and copies of all of this valuable work product (e.g., brides wanting to become wedding planners / second shooters wanting to start their own photography studio / interns wanting to start their own floral design company / etc.).

While it is certainly difficult to police, as a business owner, you can make it abundantly clear that this work product is yours and may not be used without prior permission.  Think about making this clear in your various contracts, on the individual documents themselves and in any correspondence.

As a hardworking business, you wouldn’t want to hear of your documents and other know-how being used by others for their own commercial purpose.

{ Above Image and Photography: Judy Pak Photography // Event Coordination: Brianne Ford // Design & Styling: Joyce & Ko // Flowers: Orange Blossom // Stationery: Rifle Paper Co. // Venue: International Polo Club }

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