How Copyright laws

(& professional integrity)

made me a shoeless cobbler!

This is my true story

 (~ 5 minute read)



I work in multimedia and yet, in spite of many happy and satisfied clients,
I have almost nothing to show for it in terms of a publicly available portfolio.

You see, I’m like a good, busy cobbler who’s ended up shoeless!


How’s this possible?

It turns out I’m one of those who always place their clients’ needs above all else;
after all, isn’t that the hallmark of a great service professional?

Personally, I’ve always believed this to be the case: clients first!


For instance:


  • You need something done in a rush due two days ago, and it has to look like a million bucks?
    No problem, here I am, ready for an all-nighter to deliver a product that would normally take 3 to 4 days for most to deliver…

  • You want a video mix made from multiple sourced images and unsteady videos for a fundraising event, and you want to use the latest pop songs in the mix?  Ok, as long as it’s not for web or tv dissemination, it can be done fast and well… and yes, of course I’ll fix all the lower quality images to deliver a solid, aesthetic package.

  • You have a big international sporting event coming up, and need to submit logistical plans to a sanctioning body?  Ok then, I’ll do the 3D CAD site design with you, and compile a setup manual for your logistics supervisor to properly manage volunteers and speedily get the venue ready the night before your big event…

  • You need a Virtual Expo via a custom website to support your actual event, and it needs to be hosted on my server since you’re usure how to host it on your website provider’s server?
    No problem there, glad to assist…
    What is that you say?  You don’t have all the proper branding elements for me to work with?
    Again, no problem, I can rebuild those as needed, and even animate them for best effects.

  • You need a custom-made application to enable sharing of data across the web between two unlinkable databases, from Canada to South Korea, in order for your client’s urgent needs to be met?
    Ok, will do.  I’ll call upon one of my trusted satellite resources, a great programmer living in Texas, to assist me in doing this quickly and it’ll be done within 30 days (even where most would say that’s not possible).

  • You say you’re glad so-and-so told you about me to help you with your project?
    So am I, as this is how I usually attract new business; by simple word of mouth.


And all this is done at a breakneck pace, from project to project, client to client… I don’t even need to do any advertising for all these projects to come to me, since good old fashioned word-of-mouth and nice referrals indeed make me a happy-go-lucky multimedia pro, who doesn’t have to do any promotion or bother to invest time in developing a serious portfolio in order to attract good business and projects.

Life is good…

And then... Covid hits.  Hard.


I see the devastating effects on many of my usual NPO clients. 
As for most national combat sport organizations (sort of a specialty niche for me), they got hit (silly pun intended) really hard…



So, as the entire world slowed down, I coasted as time went by until the economy and general feeling of “we can cope with this covid thing in our lives” would get us back in the swing of things.

But… Oh my, how things have changed in just a few couple of years!


Also, things have not gotten better, in many ways, as there now seems to be less time to have to do more, with organizations I now barely recognize, structure & staff-wise…  where are my clients and contacts now?


Hmm… I guess I need to seek new business and start promoting myself.


This is when I realized that, if like me, one is serving one’s clients very well while also not covering one’s potential future needs as an individual professional service provider, one might be heading for a world of trouble.


What’s more, I’m one of those people who also believe that Copyright laws are very important, as arguable as these may seem in some established areas such as using music in certain defined and differing venues.  And since I perform a lot of very “custom jobs” for “private venues”, I find that I’m quite unable to publicly promote a lot of my better works out of respect for such laws.*


*A quick technical and legal side note here :

When it comes to using copyrighted material in some delivered custom and private production, I did nothing illegal as long as the delivered work was not to be knowingly distributed at large on the web or on tv, or used for profit gains by reselling copywritten material, but a problem can arise if I was to distribute and grant free access to some of these projects and productions via a publicly open webpage of mine.

Why? Because copyright laws are complex and often limit distribution, even when my clients insist on sometimes using components/elements that are copyrighted, like some popular musical pieces for instances… That is why I usually prefer to do my own music productions or use public domain musical pieces or images.  Want to get a feel for how serious this is?

Just take a look at the YouTube copyright infringement related rules and you will get a sense of this copyright situation being a serious issue for audio/video content creators, even those that are doing it for educational or humanitarian purposes.  It’s a hornet’s nest you do not want to mess with.



So, what is one to do?

How does one promote one’s services, using conclusive and compelling examples, without breaking the rules?


This is exactly how I ended up where I am, and became “a good cobbler who went shoeless!”


Upon pondering it all, I’ve opted for an indirect yet relatively simple solution:

I’ll still present some of my more basic works “publicly”, via my website, but I now also have a
Private Collection Portfolio of various works” that I can share privately and upon request by selected potential clients and / or employers, and I only make this available on a case-per-case and need-to-see basis, as a FYEO presentation. (i.e. For Your Eyes Only… well, “for their eyes” only I should say.)

This private viewing and exploration is made possible only as long as my allowed viewers acknowledge that this private portfolio and its content are not for public broadcasting, sharing or redistribution.

I can thus, under strict rules, grant access to this private portfolio as needed.

(Of course, even in this private portfolio, I never include any documents that are, or ever were, classified as confidential by my clients. This is imperative with respect towards past clients and projects, and is also a restriction self-imposed by my personal & professional ethics.)


Of course, this means that, today still, there is way more to my body of work than first meets the eye

(and than I make publicly available on my website).

Then again, isn’t this almost always the case for those who put their clients’ needs before their own,

year in, year out?


I’m curious and really looking forward to your comments and feedbacks on this.


     And as I always say;

     Stay Safe & Stay Smart  ;)




PS  Here’s my quick takeaway :

Having learned my lesson, in the future, BEFORE even starting work on any new projects, I’ll always ask permission to see whether I can use the whole or some parts of my delivered work/projects for self-promotion via my website in a more public collection, as a new and curated portfolio growing over time.


As someone once told me :
“You can’t get if you don’t ask”.

     Wise & simple.

     Also, time and trouble saving!


(Note : Of course, should any client want my delivered goods to remain private and confidential, I’ll fully respect their wishes. After all, they’re always the owners of what I deliver for them.)


© 2018 –  2023

Wise & simple.

Also, time and trouble saving!