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What Legal Documents Do I Need To Run a Graphic Design Business?

What Legal Documents Do I Need To Run a Graphic Design Business?

Deciding to start a graphic design business, but unsure of the legal documents required to do so? Read here to find out more.

30th September 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Starting a business from scratch can be difficult, and at times overwhelming. There are many legal documents that you will need to familiarise yourself with before you start running a graphic design business. Otherwise, you may be inadvertently putting your business and creative works at risk. This article will outline the legal documents that you will need to protect your business.

Running A Graphic Design Business

Business Structure

Starting with the basics, you need to first decide on how your graphic design business will be structured. Depending on the business structure you decide to choose, it will affect the future operations of your business, including determining liability. The three most common business structures for a business in Australia are:

  • Company;
  • Sole Trader; or
  • Partnership

Each of these business structure will require different legal documents to be completed. For instance, starting a company would require documents such as a constitution, shareholders agreement, confidentiality agreement and so forth.

Hiring New Employees

If you are planning to hire new employees to help out with your business, then there are a few documents that you will need to have before you do so. These documents will not only protect the rights of your employees, but also your business. These include:

If you plan to hire any freelancers or sub-contractors too, then you will also need a contractor agreement.

Operating a Graphic Design Business Online

It is important that you have a comprehensive set of terms and conditions for your website so as to avoid any unnecessary liability. You will also need to make sure that these terms and conditions can be easily found by website visitors. The legal documents that you will need are:

  • Privacy Policy: essential if you intend to collect personal information from your clients, such as their name and contact details, and especially if you wish to pass this information onto any third party.
  • Website Terms and Conditions of use: this will protect your business website and limit your liability for your website. It also sets out how your website can and cannot be used, including the misuse of your website information by others.
  • Website advertising agreement: necessary if you plan on having advertisements on your website

Protecting Your Creative Works

Graphic Design Agreement

As detailed above, it is essential that you have a signed Graphic Design Agreement with your client, to ensure that your work and rights as the creator are being protected. Without it, you may be putting your business at risk. Some of the potential risks of not using a Graphic Design Agreement include:

  • Unintentionally giving away ownership of your designs
  • Disagreement about the fees or method of payment
  • Changes made to the terms of the initial agreement due to a sudden change of heart, such as project deadlines
  • Being liable for any losses or damages as a direct or indirect result of using your work

Therefore, by having an agreement in place, it can clear up any ambiguities that you or your client may have about the project specifications and business relationship. The agreement will help outline the circumstances of the design commission and the relationship you share with your client. It will also stipulate who has ownership of the design after its completion and the accompanying rights of having ownership, such as assignment and licensing.

Copyrightable Designs

The work that you have created will automatically be copyrightable as long as it is eligible for copyright protection and has been documented on paper or electronically. It is important to note that copyright does not protect ideas, concepts or styles. So, if a client wants to discuss with you about any ideas that they might have or possible designs to be used on a website, then these ideas will not be protected by copyright. Though, once these ideas have actually been created, then the designs should be protected under copyright laws. This means that the client cannot then take the design and provide it to another graphic designer to use.

Final Message

There are many legal considerations that you must first think about before starting a Graphic Design business. These include not only what type of business you would like to form, such as a partnership, but also the different agreements that you will need to have on your website for your visitors and clients to access. If you need help with understanding how to start a Graphic Design business or to arrange the necessary paperwork, then it is best to contact a business lawyer.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Lola Chang

Lola is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the Content Team. She is in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of International Studies (Major in China) at the University of Technology Sydney. She is interested in understanding the future of law and innovations in the legal industry.