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Other My Dilemma

Discussion in 'General' started by TheGreatSatan, 4 Jul 2014.

  1. TheGreatSatan

    TheGreatSatan Dark Lord of BT!

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    The store I work for is part of a larger company. My specific dept is called "Build Your Own", where we sell computer components. I prefer for us to have nice looking computers in our dept, which is why I provide the mods.

    [​IMG]

    I can't sell my mods and had to sign a form to not do so, or I would be considered "competing"

    Well, recently the VP came for a surprise visit and asked why aren't we selling my mods in store? I told him about what I had to sign and that really any of my big mods are out of my system and I've really lost my drive to do more.

    Later on he decided to talk with my manager and now apparently it's been decided. My manager asked me to do another wild mod. He will use store parts to fill it and then the store will sell it. It aggravates because it seems like I do all the labor and pay for all the supplies and the store collects the money?

    When it comes down to it, I'm not even that angry about the money. My computers are unique and I don't do the same one twice. I also sign all my mods and consider them my intellectual property. If the store sells my computer mod, do I lose those rights?

    If someone enters my mod in a computer contest and wins a prize, do I legally get to have some of it?

    I'd hate to have this be my big "break" in the modding world, but I'd also hate to be getting screwed.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: 6 Jan 2018
  3. Greentrident

    Greentrident Member

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    The store should reimburse you for all supplies and your time - that way they own any "IP" which is pretty minimal anyway but you don't feel out of pocket and the situation is clear. If it becomes a regular thing you should talk about being paid accordingly. jrs77's idea of offering to mod as a service seems a sensible alternative - if you contract through the store you're building a customer base and route to market which you could later spin out into a business if it's going well.
     
  4. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    As someone who works in the arts I can tell you that this is a pretty common emotion to feel, but ultimately it's an emotion that comes with the territory. Try to look at this for what it is - a commission. The store is paying you as an employee to create something that it can sell. As an artist you have to try to separate yourself from the commission, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy. By all means put all of your heart and soul in a mod. Sign it so everyone knows who created it. Then move on to the next one. The design might be your intellectual property, but the physical goods now belong to someone else and that person is free to display it, sell it, tear it apart for the components, or do whatever else it is that they are legally free to do with things that they buy. Think of it like a painting you buy at a local "starving artist" sale. Once you buy it, it's yours to hang on the wall or set on fire.

    To answer your second question (with the usual preface: I am not a lawyer) - Although it's pretty unethical for someone to enter a mod that's not their own, I don't believe that you are legally entitled to any prize money that someone else wins by entering a mod that they purchased. One of the most important considerations here is whether or not your mods are considered "works made for hire." A classic example of this is newspaper photographers. Unless both parties have signed a prior agreement, typically a newspaper photographer's photographs are considered "works made for hire," which means that they don't own the copyright for any images made within the scope of their employment. Under this part of the copyright law, and depending upon the agreement between you and your employer, your employer may actually own the copyright to the mods that you create while on the job. Having said that, copyright law is notoriously muddy, so if you are genuinely concerned you should talk to a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.
     
  5. TheGreatSatan

    TheGreatSatan Dark Lord of BT!

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    But my job for the company is a commissioned one. I work 50 hour weeks and the more time I'm there, the more I can make. I'm not being paid to mod. It seems so far that they want me to mod on my time and make them money with my work. I don't think I'm going to make an extra dime on these PC's, at least no contract says I have to yet.
     
  6. Yadda

    Yadda Well-Known Member

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    Your mods are adding value to the systems they sell so your employer should either pay for all the parts/materials and also for your labour (I.e. you shouldn't work on their mod projects in your own time), or pay you more commission on those systems - enough to cover your costs (including labour if built in your own time) plus something to make it worth your while.

    You could of course sell your own modified systems, separate to your job. :)
     
    Last edited: 5 Jul 2014
  7. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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  8. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: 6 Jan 2018
  9. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    Just to be clear here, because I think there are a couple of different ideas about the exact nature of the work, are you being asked to build a unique mod on your own time (using some of the store's components, but your own materials, etc)? Or are you being asked to build a mod during any down time you might have while on the clock (again, using the store's components, but your own materials, etc.)?

    If it's the former, then you and the VP need to sit down and negotiate some kind of agreement - in writing - about what exactly is at play here. Although you're signing up to provide your own time and talent, it sounds like they are willing to offer some pricey components. Both of you are offering something for the mod; it's only fair if both of you get something in return.

    If it's the latter, then it sounds like the company is amending your job description to include modding in addition to your standard workload. In that case, your unique talent should provide a wedge with which to negotiate for a raise in salary to compensate you for your additional responsibilities.
     
  10. TheGreatSatan

    TheGreatSatan Dark Lord of BT!

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    My supplies for the mod itself, but store parts. All on my time at my home shop. There is no area at work for me to mod, or paint
     
  11. supermonkey

    supermonkey Deal with it

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    In that case, this might fall under the second part of the definition of "works made for hire" outlined by the Copyright Act of 1976:

    In any case I would still try to sit down with the VP and negotiate something, and get it in writing. The company is commissioning you to create something that it is going to sell. I presume they aren't going to take a loss on the parts and will pass on their cost in the final cost of the computer. It's only fair for them to pay you something for your time and materials.
     
  12. erratum1

    erratum1 New Member

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    you should get a cut you're bringing customers in and they are making from the parts sold you should discuss the cost of the mod... paid in advance.

    i can see where the store is coming from but don't do it for nothing or less than nothing.
     
  13. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    So I have a friend in the states who is a legal writer and asked her to pose your dilemma to one of the lawyers she works with and...

    It's a muddy area, but his determination would be that, under law, you'd fall closer to the independent contractor definition because:

    • The work falls outside of your normal duties (commission-based sales).
    • The labour is done on your own time.
    • The labour is done on your own premises.
    • The materials are supplied by you, in part.

    The employee definition would only really apply if you have a salaried position with a specific remit to create that work e.g. a journalist working for a newspaper or a programmer working for a software company.

    Sit the manager or VP down and explain that you're not willing to do unpaid work that detracts from your ability to generate income, or supply materials for a work that the business will profit from with no remuneration.

    If they say you're being awkward remind them that you love working for the company but you're simply not prepared to work for nothing...That you can do it either way, but in doing it by the terms they prefer, or allowing the issue to affect your current employment (e.g. punishing you will less hours) it would expose themselves to potential legal proceedings because the law is on your side in this matter - Your intention isn't to be awkward, but simply to be fairly paid for your labour.

    This is the law of the United States of America, and as much as you love Microcenter, you love America more, goddammit!
     
  14. IvanIvanovich

    IvanIvanovich будет глотать вашу душу.

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    If I was in this position I would negotiate a fixed price for each case mod that the store to purchase from me, then free to sell it at whatever mark up they wish like anything.
    It's a commissioned art/product so I certainly see no reason not to charge in accordance. If they refuse pay for it then I would refuse to do that work as well.
     
  15. Nexxo

    Nexxo Queue Jumper

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    No dilemma. You're a craftsman. They pay you for your time and skills.

    No pay, no mod.
     
  16. KidMod-Southpaw

    KidMod-Southpaw Super Spamming Saiyan

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    ^ Definitely. The only reason I could ever see them being hesitant is that it may not be set in stone what the materials for your mods may cost.

    If when you do a mod, you can lay out the total of the materials, and what you want for your time, there is nothing they should be able to have against it. There's no way the shop could sell your stuff without paying for your materials. It almost reminds me of the industrial revolution days where the factories paid people in tokens they could only spend at the factory shop. :D
     
  17. RedFlames

    RedFlames ...is not a Belgian football team

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    What nexxo said, your time/ability is not free...
     
  18. jrs77

    jrs77 Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: 6 Jan 2018
  19. Yadda

    Yadda Well-Known Member

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    You know what? I think they should at least pay for his parts and labour.

    /dejavu
     

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