Work for hire occurs when you hire someone to create a piece of original, copyrightable work for you.

This free legal information is made available courtesy of Counsel to Creativity.

You hire a copy writer to write your website copy. Or a ghost writer to write your book. Or a graphic designer to design your business’s logo. They create the original work for you, but you own the copyright. They have no ownership stake in the copyright at all. But your rights and the relinquishment of their rights must be established by an agreement.

Here are the 3 essential things to remember about a work for hire agreement:

1. The mere fact that you paid someone to create something for you does not grant you ownership of that something.

A work for hire is established by either an employee relationship or a written work for hire agreement.

2. A work for hire agreement must be in writing.

All transfers of copyright must be in writing because copyright is a property right, a work for hire agreement is a transfer of the copyright— Remember that the set of rights we call copyright invests in the author at the time of creation—and the law requires that property be transferred in writing. Putting it in writing avoids what we call the statute of frauds. A verbal agreement regarding a copyright will be considered void.

3. A work for hire agreement must be signed before the original work is created.

Again, copyright invests in the author at the time of creation. To change that, the written work for hire agreement must be in place before that creation happens.

Share with me in the comments the biggest thing you learned about work for hire agreements.

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flower_icon_04Looking to change your business to better suit your life? Rebecca Prien also provides business coaching and business model design services through Ompreneur | The Yoga of Entrepreneurship.