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How to make sure you own the copyright to creative works

When hiring an outside person to design a web page, logo, take photographs you plan to use in promoting and selling your product, or create any other type of creative work, it is imperative you address copyright ownership. By default the author of the work owns it. If you are a company hiring an outsider to create works for you, agreements are needed to change this default rule.

If the work has not been created yet you need to have the creator execute a Work for Hire Agreement. A sample of one is provided below for your reference and use.

If the work is done already don’t bother with the Work for Hire Agreement as it’s completely invalid. What you need in this scenario is to have the creator of the work execute a Copyright Assignment to transfer ownership from the creator to you the purchaser. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simply because you paid someone to create the work that you own the copyright. Unless that person is an employee (which means the creation is automatically a Work for Hire) you don’t own rights without the assignment. A sample Copyright Assignment is provided below.

Please note that although we are providing these samples contracts we are not acting as your lawyers. There are situations where these forms should be substantially modified and before putting them into use you should consult your lawyer. If you need a copyright lawyer in Los Angeles we’d be happy to help out.

Click here for a sample Work for Hire Agreement

Click here for a sample Copyright Assignment

Written by
Dan Cotman
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