IP Tech Knowledgy

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Know if Someone Else Will Own the Copyright in What Your Freelance Writer Creates

Be sure to understand who owns the copyright when you hire someone to contribute to your project. If the person is also working for another entity, consider what rights that other principal may have. The situation may arise where a business wants to use the creative input of someone on a temporary or freelance basis, or wants to use the writer’s expertise for certain projects, but that person may be employed by someone else. The issue is that under the copyright principles of “work made for hire,” the employer, not the creator, owns anything created by an employee within the scope of their employment. If the creator is employed elsewhere and is providing any type of content, which could be deemed within the scope of their employment, then the first employer, and not the second venture who is receiving the freelance help, may own the work created. Additionally, contractual obligations or employee policies may constrain what the writer or creator can do for others, or may dictate that the original employer owns any work. As the person who may want to start a venture in addition to this or their regular job, be sure that any newly created work would not be considered a work made for hire by an employer or is not any type of work covered by employee handbooks or any contract with a different employer or principal.


Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com