Work For Hire Agreement

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 sales?
  • 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.

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Basic Work For Hire Agreement
Fully customizable Word document for immediate download
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Work For Hire Agreement for Musicians
The same form, tailored to bands or artists hiring session musicians
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Includes all of our intellectual property forms and copyright handbooks

Related Forms

A Copyright Assignment Form is used to transfer ownership of an existing work, when a Work For Hire Agreement is no longer an option.

A Copyright License Agreement grants others permission to use your material in a specific way, while you retain full rights over that material.

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