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Good Problems to Have – Work Made for Hire

You’ve squared away your tax situation, properly hired workers, and obtained workers' comp. You’re all set for growth now—right?

Just one more potential pitfall. If you hire vendors to create logos, websites, content, illustrations or other creative works for your business, make sure you actually own the copyrights at the end of the day.

Copyrights are automatically owned by an employer where the employee creates the work as part of their job. This is known as the “Work Made for Hire” doctrine.

But where you hire a contractor or vendor to create the work, your company does not automatically own it. The Copyright Act provides for certain specially commissioned works to be owned by the business that commissions them. These are very narrow items and most of them do not pertain to routine business projects:

· contribution to a collective work,

· part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work,

· translation,

· supplementary work,

· compilation,

· instructional text,

· test,

· answer material for a test, or

· atlas.

The copyright to every other kind of work a business orders or buys from an outside vendor is owned by the creator as soon as the work is created.

That is why it is important for every business to have a written agreement with their vendors that discusses who owns the copyright in the logo, website, illustration or content ordered by the business.


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