Is It Illegal to List a Work on Portfolio?

If you do all the work for a client, a website project, is it illegal for you list the website(mentioning name of website, a brief summary of what you did on the project) on your portfolio based on US laws?

If it were illegal there would be no portfolios at all. I somehow have the feeling there’s something you’re not telling us.

I developed a site for a company about a year ago. Site got live, I got the payment.

After I finished the project I had the project listed on my portfolio, also company on my client page.

Then today I got an email from the client which is this(company name X’d):

Please remove all content, and meta-data, related to XXXXXXX from your website and refrain from utilizing anything associated with XXXXXX to advertise your business from this point on.

I have full protection of my intellectual property and will take legal action in the event that you do not take this notice seriously. However, I would rather not go that route.

Note that I got this complain from him after a year I had that project listed on my site. Also we had a signed agreement which does not mention that I cannot list the work on my portfolio.

During the phone call today we sort of had a heated conversation. I explained to him he cannot ask me not to list the work I did. And I refused to take it down. He also mentioned that when people search for his Website my page shows #1 on Google. I guess which is his major concern.

After the phone call I got another email from him specifying he is getting this matter at his lawyer’s office.

I could remove it to avoid the hassle. However I feel like I should not, if its allowed by law.

Is there any particular reason you really want that site on your portfolio? If it doesn’t really help you or your business I’d just take it down. TBH it sounds a bit like you’re wanting to spite the client.

From the tone of your post I get that your upset with him (and I have to admit he could have worded his e-mail a lot nicer), but I’d say it’s easier to take the project down and be done with it, instead of dragging this out. Especially if there is no gain in it for you in keeping it there.

Alternatively, you could make a nofollow robots tag on that page and remove it from the search engines so you can still show it on your website (which is what you want) and not be above your client in the SERPs (which is what your client wants)?

Yeah I must admit I am upset with the whole thing.

I know this guy wouldn’t settle for noindex.

I will let the law decide. This whole thing to me is an unjustifiable request.

I cannot predict what the law will say about this, it is one of those disputes where I could argue either side. However, I can tell you that the lawyers will love argueing this for you. They will fight the battle until you have paid them your last nickel.

Indeed, this has ‘money pit’ written all over it.

I have a personal rule that I follow: never do anything on ‘principal’. The idea of doing something on principal is so vague, and usually it means that you are really doing it for spite, revenge, stubbornness, etc.

Doing something for ethics, morals, money, convenience, opportunity, etc. are great things. But if you are doing it on principal, you should figure out what ‘principal’ you are doing it for and think about whether it’s worthwhile.

In business, you have to have a good reason for your actions and usually those reasons should support a business goal.

i spoke a lawyer over this. he said if its not mentioned on the contract that i could use the company name/project for advertising, i would not be able to display the name on my portfolio if the company doesn’t allow.

according to my lawyer the contract should mention that i could use the company name/project for advertising. i guess that would save lot of unnecessary trouble like this.

i must agree with you folks its not worthy wasting time on this. looking at the big picture for the business, it would be wise decision let it go.

I am not expect in US/Massachusetts laws, but I think that if it was not specifically mentioned in your contract (or you signed a kind of NDA) as an author you can refer to projects you developed/designed.
However probably it doesn’t make a sense to spend your times and efforts to this legal battle.
To avoid these disputes some times ago we specifically stated the right of use in marketing materials in our contract template.

As attorney jaffe, this is a toss-up. There are potentially copyright issues, trademark issues, “implied endorsement” issues and probably a host of others. Silence in the contract does not make these go away. It would shape up to be an interesting but expensive battle.

The OP has indicated that he agrees that looking at the big picture, it is wise to let this one go. I agree.

Lesson learned on this one.

Instead of fighting put far less money into having your attorney update your contract to state a right to use name and screen shot for a period of a few years. If clients don’t want you to show the affiliation that may be ok but they’ll have to tell you upfront so there’s no issues down the road.