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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 111596
Experience:  Attorney practicing all aspects of copyright/trademark law
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I'm a designer, architectural activist, and academic. I

Customer Question

Hello, I'm a designer, architectural activist, and academic.
JA: What written documentation do you have?
Customer: I presented a concept called the "prison-wall" project (a 2000 mile wall across the Mexican-American frontier that is also a prison) to a Mexican design firm at a meeting in New York on 9/15/16. My fiance was there. I described the wall and images in great detail. I gave them a 7 page "Commission statement" for the images and he sent me an email saying that he acknowledged that the ideas were mine and that the images were based on my concept. I subsequently agreed with the firm to collaborate on the production of images. There are about a 100 text messages, there were several calls including with his group of interns, etc. indicating that I collaborated on making the images.
JA: Have you talked to a local attorney? Has anything been filed in court?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: They did a press release and the images have gone viral.
Submitted: 25 days ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Customer: replied 25 days ago.
In their press release, the mention as one of the two principal credits, along with a group of 7 interns that I worked with in multiple conversations. They initially did not put my name on the images, and now they have "(c) [Name of intern], courtesy of [name of Mexican firm] and [my name]." So I'm getting some recognition. He also promised me that they would send me all the images without a watermark, but have not done so.
As the images have gained increasing attention, the firm has managed the press release process to minimize my role as originator of the idea and as co-art director.
As far as documentary evidence that I am a joint author, there is an email in which I say that I am spending time on the images; he requests that I be on a several hour long call to review and give feedback on the images; numerous text messages (50-100) in which I am discussing the images with the head of the firm and one or two specific images with an intern. In an interview, a member of the Mexican firm said that "H. Ladha [that's my name] was one of the two leaders of the process."
Here are my questions:
1. I believe I am a joint author of these images. Would you agree?
2. I have these images on my website with the formula that the firm has provided "by courtesy of H. Ladha". Am I allowed to use them?
3. My academic colleagues told me to file a copyright of the images. The firm had told me multiple times that they would send me the images clean but didn't do so. I sent the images to someone in India to remove the credit on the images and then registered the image as co-author, along with the firm. I did so without the firm's knowledge, since they are being completely uncooperative and acting in bad faith. I realize just after registering that the person in India that the credit is a "watermark" and that the helper in India just photoshopped the existing watermark out. I was unaware of that and of the rules around it. Am I in trouble? What should I do?
Customer: replied 25 days ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Customer: replied 25 days ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 24 days ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
From what you describe they have stolen your copyrights and now you would not be able to register the works without engaging in litigation. Your facts above do indicate that you are owner of the works and have rights to the images, but it means that you now need a local intellectual property law attorney to represent you and sue the companies that are now infringing on your copyrights and seek to get damages PLUS upon winning suit you would be able to register the copyrights in your designs.
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