Saturday, September 30, 2023

Why Copyright Assignment Language Matters

There’s a general misunderstanding that work-for-hire agreements cover the creation — and transfer — of all copyrightable works. That’s not the case. Keep in mind that under US copyright law, a work is considered work-for-hire if the person creating the work is an employee or else an independent contractor fulfilling one or more of nine factors. Otherwise, the person creating the work not falling within one of the nine factors will need to assign her copyright to the commissioning party. Click here for a work-for-hire pdf circular from the US Copyright Office.

Evan Brown, of the Information Law Group, gives us a nice recap of why the drafting of an assignment clause is crucial when hiring creative individuals.


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Comments: 2

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  • Very true – “Work made for hire” seems to have become a term of art for anyone acting as an independent contractor, when that is not the case.

    Assignment is almost always necessary.

  • The copyright implications of work-for-hire are important for creatives and freelancers to understand as evidenced in this case. Transparency and clarity with regard to what copyrights are transferred or retained is essential.

    This case demonstrates the worst case scenario of what can happen, and highlights how contracts don’t always speak to the issue of who retains or receives copyright.

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