- You design a piece for Company A. The piece performs very well for Company A. So much so that they use the piece for several years.
- Eventually Company A shuts down.
- A few years later, you are contacted by Company B who shows you samples of the piece you designed for Company A and wants something similar.
- Through price negotiations you learn that Company B has discovered you did the design for Company A and most likely have the files associated with the piece.
- Company B wants you to use the files created for Company A and merely cut/paste their info into the same piece.
- You know full well that Company B will pay someone to replicate the design if you refuse the work.
Do you smile and oblige?
Do you refuse?
Are you at all concerned about copyrights?
Is there an obligation to Company A to maintain their pieces and not share them with every company who merely asks?
Does the fact that Company A has shut down alter your decisions?
Of note: I’m not referring to “template” design. A full product is developed for Company A and they pay for that product accordingly. Nothing was ever referenced as or maintained to be a “template”. “Template” indicates a client is aware that the design is used many times over for various (other) businesses. Customarily, “template” use reduces the initial costs to the client.
I wouldn’t do it, just because a company’s doors may be shut down still doesn’t mean someone isn’t planning on in the future to re-open. It’s a tough economy and myself couldn’t justify having a store front with the way everything is going and yes there may be an ethical issue. I say this from experience, just because the doors aren’t physically open doesn’t mean the company cannot one day be sold, or someone owns the rights.
Also, as stated its an ethical issue. Do you really want to be associated as the designer who does not create custom work but sells previous work to clients? I know that it may not seem like that so look at it like this. Possible Client C knows your work but sees that the work for Client A you purposed for Client B. Not saying you mean to do it personally but you have to agree it looks bad.
Solution: Offer the ethical option and explain why. If they are decent and you approach the situation as “I cannot in my heart do that” I would imagine and hope if they are wanting to start with a good reputation that they will understand and you can work on making something similar.
From the design spectrum you know they already like your work. They have hunted you down to see if you could do something with it. I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to create something different or find something other than duplicating work in your favor.