Design Handover and Copyright Transfer

August 11, 2008

I am pleased to announce a major new feature and our first step towards automating payment handling: design handover.

Previously, designers and contest holders negotiated the exchange of final design files and payments themselves when a contest ended. Now, after a contest holder has declared a winner, the contest holder and designer will see a gold button in the contest area that says “design handover”. This will guide the designer and contest holder through the process of exchanging payment and uploading and downloading the final design files.

Another issue we have addressed in this feature, is the addition of a formal copyright transfer agreement. As part of the exchange, both users agree to a copyright transfer that we store electronically for future reference (a copy of the design is stored with the signed agreement in our repository). This agreement makes clear that the handover of rights to the image occurs only when payment is received.

53 Responses to “Design Handover and Copyright Transfer”

  1. Ignacio Says:

    No way I’m going to upload my PSD files to 99Designs. Just JPG.

  2. Any reason why Ignacio? The design handover is only ever for exchanging design files between the contest holder and the winning designer, AFTER payment has been received. It’s designed to protect designers and make it easier for us to enforce the rules with contest holders.

  3. Not to mention it means you don’t have to send the files by email!

  4. ulahts Says:

    Great touch LD. This would make a better communication between CH and designers.

    Ignacio, i really don’t get your point. You didn’t understood it completely! The files needs to be handed over after the contest is ended and you are declared winner. Of course the payment made.

  5. Brandon Vaughn Says:

    Sweet. I’m not a very good lawyer and I hate when people ask for copyright documents…

  6. mrpsycho98 Says:

    U r Great LH!!

    Hmm…ignacio..12yrs old?
    Do u xperinced anything a while back when 99designs is Sitepoint Marketplace? nada i think…erghh…


  7. Nadia P Says:

    Good one guys – can’t wait to see it in action :-p

    Is this feature to be implemented for every contest (as of now?) or for guaranteed contests at this point in time?

  8. kroz Says:

    great addition man! should make it easier for everyone..

    on a sidenote, I’ve observed that there has been only a couple of new contests today. Is it something caused by the new addition or have the contests per day have simply decreased greatly? thanks!

  9. LogoRush Says:

    I like it! Can’t wait for all this action to finally start.

  10. Nadia P Says:

    Just noticed the new “Design Handover” button on a contest that I’d won last week. (I have already completed the transaction last week though) but it was great to see it in action :-)

    Clicked on it, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it seems to complete the transfer etc., Won’t be able to tell fully until we all get to use it I guess though :-)

    Well done and thank you !
    PS: Noticed a few other changes too – it would be great to have somewhere to compliment you guys on the new features when they are added… difficult to do via this blog…

  11. L.O. Says:

    kroz – I agree that something is wrong with the site. I’ve been trying to post a new contest for 2 days now and the system will not let me. I even created new accounts to post the contest under along with some other testing. I keep emailing support and I get no response. Something is definitely not working.

    Although this change is cool, I think it broke something else when it was moved to production???

  12. Gandecruz Says:

    ” This contest is ended, the contest holder has 7 days to pick a winner or withdraw the contest. ”
    it’s all over in every ended contest. a little more details about this please. what happen if pass 7 days? automatically cancelled?
    Thank you.. :D

  13. August Design Says:

    Is there a file size maximum for transferring files? Some PSD files or InDesign packages can get quite large if they’re for print.

    It’s a good addition to the site, since now I don’t have to pay a monthly fee to an FTP transfer site. Thanks!

  14. Candy Cane O Says:


    We have chosen 2 images we like– and want BOTH people to WIN!!

    **our contest ended before the date we wante it to.

    Thank you,

    Candy Cane O

  15. Nerida Gill Says:

    Kros, we’ve been trying to post a contest but it hasn’t been working. ie. losing the information and taking us back to the start. Others are no doubt having the same problem.
    We’re hoping it will be fixed today! :-)

  16. Hi Gandecruz,

    The contest isn’t automatically cancelled.

    At the end of the seven-day period, the contest holder is reminded they should make a decision (via email) and the contest appears on our support radar to monitor and follow-up, if necessary.

  17. Tom Says:

    So according to the agreement, the only right the designer is left with is to display the piece on a hosted portfolio?

    Seems a bit stingy. What if I want to display it on my own portfolio?

  18. Tom: Provided you clear it with the copyright owner, that should be fine.

    We didn’t include a variety of exemptions in the default template to keep things simple, there are a wide range of potential exemptions that you might want to negotiate, in time we will add the option to customize that. In the meantime, remember you are able to negotiate any terms you want provided you both agree on them.

  19. ansys Says:

    Nice to see so many featured added in the 99 designs. Can’t wait to see it live.

  20. mrpsycho98 Says:

    Having problem to upload winning design today. Uploaded to my server and PM has been sent to CH, but dunno how the ‘design handover’ process could be resolve..

    Any help from admin is much appreciated…


  21. Omer Says:

    Thanks for finally implementing this feature, this should make things much easier!

  22. psygn Says:

    Lachlan, I have satellite Internet and a successful upload is 50/50 with files under 1 MB.

    I have trouble uploading files over 1 MB due to latency issues and all the other obstacles that satellite Internet customers have to travel through. Most of my web design PSD’s are roughly around 4 MB.

    This feature sounds very nice, but _PLEASE_ give us the option to upload .RAR/.ZIP files and have it unrar/unzip it for the customer.

    Sadly, satellite Internet is the only option here other than dial up.

  23. Couldn’t you just zip it and upload it? Most people will know how to open a zip file.

  24. erdesign Says:

    Thanks! this will be great!

  25. psygn Says:

    Yes, I can zip it and upload it. I was under the impression that this only accepted .PSD files.


  26. Danilux Says:

    This is a great new feature for protecting designer in a way.

  27. lynrite Says:

    I just used this feature… it was swwweeweet!!! It simplified the process :)

    Great job guys!!!

  28. MSGraphics Says:

    Atlast We have this option. Im so happy to have this service, so that the payment is more secure and assured.

  29. HBDiS Says:

    I think the gold button is a great idea

  30. shuckit! Says:

    Quick question. I was declared a winner last week about 5 days after the contest had ended. The client is now emailing me about revisions and still hasn’t made the payment. Revisions should be completed while the contest is still live, correct? Like I said my design was declared the winner, gold box and everything.=)

  31. Erica Smith Says:

    This is a nice touch. I’m fairly new to this site, and I’m addicted! This will make things much easier for both the CH and the designer. Thanks!

  32. Paul Annesley Says:

    shuckit: you’re quite right – when you’re awarded winner, you are entitled to the prize money in exchange for the design files that represent the winning design.

    If the contest holder needs revisions made after this, they need to negotiate it with you. Some designers make some small revisions after the handover, while some charge a fee for the work – it’s up to you.

  33. shuckit! Says:

    Paul, thanks for the heads up. Will 99designs help me get the payment or is that between me and the client? I don’t mind small revisions, but combined with waiting weeks for a payment is annoying.

  34. psygn Says:

    shuckit!, I believe that it is between you and the client. I was scammed on the first web design contest I won here. That was my own fault for not reading how the transaction worked, and it was my first time designing for money (trust NOBODY!). I asked 99Designs for help, but they can’t do much about it, if anything at all.

    Anyway, there’s not much you can do about a contest holder dangling the bone over your head and teasing it in front of you. You can demand they pay a portion of it now to reaffirm the trust/relation. But then you may lose another potential source of revenue, but that path may be better left closed considering the way the contest holder is playing the game.

  35. datulakay Says:

    i experience the same thing, i was annouced winner but the most i hate about is that i trust the CH. i already sent him the files the complete file but waited almost a month before i got the payment..

    another one has sent me payment but only half of it, he wanted me to do everything on the website (contest holder) which is not really estated on his Brief.

    he said he want me to complete the whole website before he will send me the remaining balance. i find it unfair cause it’s not what he wants on the brief he gave.

    i find 99designs can;t do anything about it..

    am gatting worried now for all of us designers here.. we are doing good design but some freak out there are trying to still our desings.

  36. datulakay Says:

    …i meant steal

  37. Syed Says:

    Great work 99.. It was much required. Was it Adam who made it appear there ?? :) just wondering!

  38. Sorry if this has nothing to do with this blog post but…

    Allowing contest holders to extend contests SUCK!


  39. Janlo Says:

    This is good. I had a bad experience here in 99 designs, after my client took my winning design without paying for it. Its really traumatic for me. Thanks.

  40. Nadia P Says:

    Trying to use the interface for the first time.

    Is there a file size limit on upload. I zipped up the files (2.45mb) but it didn’t show up in the ‘uploaded file dialogue box’. I then zipped up a small ‘font’ file and that showed up correctly and the CH was notified that it was available for download.

    However, the main design files do not seem to ‘take’. On second retry – the browser seems to go into a loop, stops as if all is ok, but there is no record of the upload. ??

    Advice please?

  41. Nadia P Says:

    A little more on this…..Original file contained a psd and a png file zipped to the size of 2.45mb. This will not upload.

    I ended up splitting the files… 1 x 1.15mb and 1 x 1.33mb. The uploads worked at that size while the much larger file size did not. S I’m presuming that there must be a limit to the file size. If so, may be a good idea to make mention of this in the upload dialogue box ??

  42. Paul Annesley Says:

    Thanks for letting us know, Nadia.

    Currently there’s an 8mb upload limit per file, which shouldn’t be affecting your upload at all.

    We’ll look into it.

  43. Nadia P Says:

    Thanks Paul,

    I’d appreciate the look, because I did try numerous times, but the larger file size just wouldn’t take. As can be confirmed by the fact that the CH didn’t receive notification until I’d uploaded the smaller files.

    PS: If it matters, I use Firefox

  44. Katesrobyn Says:

    Hi.. I am a DESIGNER, I just won a contest recently… and haven’t heard from … the CH (Slyzo70). I’ve been waiting for his messages or email so we could settle the price won, I just sending him a PM since he doesn’t have an email, but infortunately he doesn’t reply… I have seen his last log-in is 2 days ago…but he didn’t reply on me. Would you able to assist me to track him?… I just want to hear from him… to settle everything.

  45. psygn Says:

    Did you try using Internet Explorer?

    If all else fails, IE usually works… unfortunately ;P

  46. It turns out there was indeed a 2MB limit on uploads, we have changed this to an 8MB limit and an upcoming release has some extra error messages if something goes wrong with the upload.

    Apologies for the problems!

  47. Nadia P Says:

    Thanks for following up on this guys – The upload limit is quite generous and the ‘error messages’ sounds like a good idea too :-)

  48. SDStduio Says:

    great idea!!

    Thanks LH!!

  49. Emma Taylor Says:

    I always make sure clients pay up before I hand a design over. This new function is most appreciated though! I always worry that someone might steal from me.

    And thanks for making the process clearer!

  50. xs Says:

    Can you give us more details on the “Copyright Transfer”? Are there some sort of terms that we have to accept after winning a contest, thats states giving up all the rights to our designs?

    What did Tom mean by “the _only_ right the designer is left with is to display the piece on a hosted portfolio” ?

    Is there a link to this document?

  51. Says:

    Sweet! I’ve just came back here in 99designs after a major project which ate up a lot of my time. I’ve been waiting for this feature in months!

    99designs just keeps getting better and better ;)

  52. Crystal Jones Says:

    This is a great feature, and saves me the trouble of drawing up the IP paperwork required in these kinds of transactions..

    XS: Truth be told in these contests, the designers work is a “work for hire”. The only rights a designer should retain would be the right to display the work in their portfolios (either here or elsewhere). Most larger corporations allow at LEAST this right.. However ownership of the work is another matter and should be assigned to the person or entity who has commisioned the work.. The addition of this “handoff” feature ensures that CH are granted the correct IP rights, while at the same time ensuring that designers receive payment for their work when they hand it over..

  53. genpix Says:

    Now that this after-contest period is being formalized a bit, I think it would be great to allow the winning designer to upload the final design for public display. (Not a vector, just a PNG or similar format.) I’ve suggested this in the Feedback Forum:

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