Portfolio/Reel Legal Rights and NDAs

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  • eighteen

    Hi it's me the guy who recently lost his job.

    I'm wondering if anyone has any resources on the laws on fair use of work that you've created under a Non-Disclosure Agreement at a job as a designer. I signed one when I started and I have been told by my boss that he's willing to approve a reel that I come to him with but has also made shady references to me being liable if I use content that hasn't been approved. Just to be clear I live in Canada so advice on Canadian Law would be preferable.

    I'm just wondering about general experiences that designers have had with this type of thing. I know that if content has been posted publicly there is nothing they can do to stop me linking it in my portfolio. But other things I've made are behind paywalls, or just haven't been released by the client yet. The bulk of my best work was done at this company, so far, so there's at lot I'd like to use to market my skills to future employers.

  • Gnash1

    Even stuff posted publicly can be considered part of the nda. The wording in your nda is what should guide you.

    I would make sure that you get that approval your ex boss is offering. Could you just send him a list of the projects you want to include and get him to approve a written list?

    • Not sure about how I'm supposed to do this and I only have one week. I will be updating when I tryeighteen
    • Oh, he wants to see the finished reel first? Would be easier if you could get a written list approvedGnash
  • shapesalad5

    Password protected link with Vimeo, reel shown only to decent potential employers.

    • < ThisBaskerviIle
    • Not an option for applications that just ask for a portfolio siteeighteen
    • You're overestimating my amount of good portfolio workeighteen
    • actually i guess i could do that...it just seems like something employers would baulk at like fuck this guy im moving onto the next dude with no passwordeighteen
    • <- this will backfire at the second they contact your previous employer.sted
    • I've seen plenty of job application forms that let you leave a password for reels.CyBrainX
  • monNom0

    Like it or not, that work you did actually belongs to your previous employer. You may retain some sort of morale rights (ie: authorship), but that would depend on the language of the contract, and would likely need to be settled in court if your old employer didn't agree. That sounds expensive, and probably not a great investment.

    I'd try to stay on their good side and put together a really strong reel of public work you did for them. Get any approval in writing <-- very important.

    • OK I'll probably do that but I'm wondering..eighteen
    • ...why would anyone actually take a former empoyee to court just for showing publicly posted content in their reel to showcase their work?eighteen
    • what are they to gain? what, if anything are they losing by a segment of some ad they commissioned being shown to like 5 or 10 potential employers?eighteen
    • <-this. and next time be smart :)
      i fucked myself once with this, and quit because they didn't wanted to change my nda form 5 to 2y.
    • Well the threatening letter I received from my former employer described it as the “tort of passing off”. That I was claiming property that wasn’t mine.monNom
    • I had been given verbal okay by one of the partners, but never got it in writing. Months later I got contacted by their lawyers. Very shitty people.monNom
    • To be clear, I was showing only work that was 100% my design work, AND crediting my former employer. Still dicks.monNom
    • Wow, what happened after that monNom? Very interested to hear these stories this is why I made this threadeighteen
  • AQUTE0

    • once again I made this account 13 YEARS AGO I'm 31 years old but thank you for the thoughtful response.eighteen
    • I know darling this video is 11+ years old. This is nothing but a joke. Kisses.AQUTE
    • ok dude, its unhelpful and not really even a joke is all I'm saying. I guess it's my fault for posting a serious design thread on this site LOLeighteen
  • eighteen0

    Here is the wording from a line in the NDA I signed, which leads me to believe I'm good to use any work that has been publicly posted:

    "Confidential Information does not include (i) information which is or becomes generally available to the public through no action on your part in violation of the terms and conditions hereof"

    • "i made that" isn't a generally public information.sted
    • Is there nothing specific to ‘portfolio use’ in there?Gnash
    • Eg ; https://www.lawinsid…Gnash
    • My nda’s have usually included a portfolio clauseGnash
    • Can you remove the logo/name. change any to loren ipsum, remove voice over etc. Anything to remove anything that would be legally sensitive?shapesalad
    • ^this is what I'll probably do if they end up rejecting my reel or request to show workeighteen
  • Gnash1

    Some decent insights here:


  • nb3

    The following is not legal advice, but it is my experience:

    If you’re using it to apply for jobs? Fuck ‘em, use what you want. Make it non-public. A private Vimeo link with a password that you send to employers directly is fine.

    Here’s the thing, usually for you to be liable that means “liable for damages” which means they would probably have to prove they lost money because of your reel. Fat chance! You don’t want to get into a lawsuit hassle, but really think about how hard it is to prove losses directly related to a reel.

    Now, if you’re planning on starting your own company and using it as your portfolio to share with clients, that’s probably misrepresenting a little and might be easier to make a case against you if you were really successful with that real. Still, unlikely.

    Finally, if your reel accidentally leaked some kind of private corporate information (eg. a new product that hasn’t been announced, or even just the private plans of a public company) then you could be liable for damages and possibly even in violation of insider trading laws.

    • Thanks. I'll really only be using this to apply for jobs so I really doubt anything will be done about it.eighteen
    • I will be trying to do freelance though, definitely wont be poaching their clients or anything. It could be interpreted that way i guess...eighteen
    • What I want to use is examples of my animation work, rigging stuff and logo reveals. I'll be showing my boss a reel of the latter to get approval but...eighteen
    • In terms of character rigs they dont share any private or copyrighted info so I'm not worried.eighteen