Do you own the work your employee and contractor create for you?

Elliott Stapleton Copyright

Business owners may use employees or independent contractors to produce websites, software, logos, articles, or other unique creative works for use by the company. It may surprise you to know that, without a Work for Hire Agreement, your company does not own the work created by an independent contractor.

Who owns work created by an Independent Contractor?

By default, independent contractors (also known as freelancers, consultants, or non-employees) own the work they create.  To retain rights to the work, a Work for Hire Agreement is necessary.

Click here to schedule a free initial consultation on a Work for Hire Agreement and any of the issues listed in this article.

A Work for Hire Agreement designates the business as the owner of the work.  This applies to contributions on collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas.

Who owns work created by an Employee?

Work created by an employee, if within the scope of their position, is presumptively the property of the employer. It is best to have the scope of employment clearly defined so there is no confusion on this point.

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About the Author

Elliott Stapleton

Elliott is a partner in the firm of Cornetet, Meyer, Rush and Stapleton, LPA. His business clients range from small single member companies to large privately held businesses.

Elliott’s legal services include advice on Business Formation and Transactions, Real Estate Transactions, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Estate Planning, and Probate Administration.