Are you clear who owns what when it comes to copyright?

Many people are aware of copyright and what it protects, however few people are aware that there are some circumstances in which you may not own the copyright even if you created it.

Employment

This is the main area in which the creator may not own the copyright. If a person is employed, it is standard practise that the employer owns all copyright created by its employees. This creates a situation where any individual creates a life changing and worldwide household product but gets none of the rewards.

Unless your employment contract says otherwise, which is unlikely, you will have to agree that all rights in the works created whilst in the course of your employment are immediately transferred to your employers.

The term ‘in the course of your employment’ can be a wide term and there have been many instances where it isn’t clear if a work has been created in the course of employment or not.

It is always best to ensure that these points are made clear for both parties at the beginning of the employment contract. If you are likely to do work relating to your employment but outside of the remit of what you are being employed to do, it is best to ensure the right terms are in place to enable your copyright protection to remain secure.

Commissions

As a contrast to the above, if a person is commissioned to create a work, the copyright protection originates in the creator.

This is something that is very important to consider as in most situations, the person who has ordered the commission will want to use the work and have ownership of it.

In order to transfer the ownership of the copyright from the commissioned party to the commissioner, both parties must sign an assignment document. This is a transfer of ownership from one party to the other. It is effectively a sale and details on what terms the work has been transferred.

Without this, the commissioned party can do whatever they want with the work they have created for you, and that is something most would like to avoid.

If an agreement isn’t put in place, a license is normally implied otherwise the party who commissioned the work wouldn’t be able to use it. However, you need to be sure that the commissioned party can only use the work in the way you want them to.

If you are still unclear as to the ownership of your copyright protection, do not delay and get in touch today to speak with the team.

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