Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Writing Rights and Work For Hire

If you pay a writer to provide content for you, make sure you have the rights and license information spelled out in your contract. You may not own what you assume you own!

When you hire a writer to "Work for Hire", you own your content and in most cases you can use it any way you please for your website, blog, press releases, and feature articles. Some writers will restrict your use of their created content and license it only for specific uses. It is important to spell out your use rights as you will not always clearly own someone else's work even if you pay for it in full.

In our case, we do not "work for hire". We had a situation where a client took our created blog content and told us that they were creating a book which they intended to pass off as their own writing. Clearly we should have received acknowledgment as the writer and possibly even received royalties. Since that situation, we spell out in our letter of agreement for all writing that we license the content to you, but retain ownership. This will prevent unauthorized use of our work for purposes other than which it was intended.

Most writers have various rates for different types of writing and uses. We pay our writers one rate for blogs and another rate for articles, web content, and press releases. It is important to understand that assuming you own content clearly for whatever use you want needs to be nailed down in a written contract to prevent a copyright infringement. Remember the writer or firm which created the work owns the copyright, not you, unless you legally transfer it to you as part of the contracted payment in writing.

When you hire a writer, make sure you both clearly document ownership and intended use, it will prevent possible legal ramifications.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you better go back a read the US Copyright Act on what constitutes a Work Made for Hire as you are misleading your readers.

Nancy McCord said...

I sure have read it. I am correct in stating that if you are going to do a "work for hire" it should be spelled out in your contract.

You can review more information below on this important rights issue:

“work made for hire” is—
(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
(2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a 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, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. (My note - notice if agreed in a written instrument and this may mean anything that you write and supply to a client.)

For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, a “supplementary work” is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes, and an “instructional text” is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.

In determining whether any work is eligible to be considered a work made for hire under paragraph (2), neither the amendment contained in section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106–113, nor the deletion of the words added by that amendment—
(A) shall be considered or otherwise given any legal significance, or
(B) shall be interpreted to indicate congressional approval or disapproval of, or acquiescence in, any judicial determination,
by the courts or the Copyright Office. Paragraph (2) shall be interpreted as if both section 2(a)(1) of the Work Made For Hire and Copyright Corrections Act of 2000 and section 1011(d) of the Intellectual Property and Communications Omnibus Reform Act of 1999, as enacted by section 1000(a)(9) of Public Law 106–113, were never enacted, and without regard to any inaction or awareness by the Congress at any time of any judicial determinations.

You can read the full information here: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/usc_sec_17_00000101----000-.html

The law also states that if you as a client do not specify that you are buying a work for hire in your agreement, the writer retains copyright. We operate transparently with clients and prefer to spell out our rights and their rights to things we create and not have problems farther down the road.

Don't agree? Put your link proving otherwise with content showing your point.