Establishing Copyright Ownership of Commissioned Materials
A Work For Hire Agreement is used to establish that the hiring party—a business
or company, for example—owns the copyright to material another party creates—a
freelance copywriter, perhaps. It is used before the project has begun, preemptively
solving any potential ownership issues down the line.
According to copyright law, an employer owns anything an employee creates during
the scope of that employment. But what about independent workers, such as freelancers
or contractors? In this case, the employer/employee section of copyright law does
not apply. This is where a Work For Hire Agreement comes in.
This agreement is an important tool to help you avoid potentially messy legal issues
surrounding your ownership of intellectual property.
Here are a few examples of copyright ownership conflicts that could have been avoided with a Work For Hire Agreement:
An artist creates a painting at the request of a company for a benefit, and the
company later uses it for promotional materials. The artist sues for breach of license,
but the company maintains that it owns the rights to the painting. Who is right?
A band hires a session musician to help with an album and pays him for his services.
When the album starts climbing the charts, the session musician demands royalty
payments. Does the session musician have a legal right to a portion of the album
An author hires someone else to help strengthen their own memoir, and through numerous
rewrites, the hired help believes she deserves a co-author credit and rights to
the book. Is she right?
With a Work For Hire, it’s clear right from the beginning of the project that the
person or organization doing the hiring owns the resulting materials, whether that
be a logo, website copy, song, software, or any other type of copyrightable material.
Basic Work For Hire Agreement
Fully customizable Word document for immediate download
Work For Hire Agreement for Musicians
The same form, tailored to bands or artists hiring session musicians
Copyright Assignment Form is used to transfer ownership of an existing
work, when a Work For Hire Agreement is no longer an option.
Copyright License Agreement grants others permission to use your material
in a specific way, while you retain full rights over that material.