Intellectual Property Rights and Contractors

When it comes to intellectual property and independent contractors, the lines can get blurry. Many people are surprised to find out that if their company does hire an independent contractor to create something for them–a book, a painting, a logo, or other types of graphics–that the company does not necessarily own the creative work that the contractor created. This is usually confused because when a business hires someone as an employee to do the same job, it is usually clearly stated in the contract that the business owns any creative ideas that the employee designed related to the job. An intellectual property attorney can understand that this is a confusing area of law and we are here to help. If you have legal questions or problems regarding intellectual property, please give a patent attorney, a call. 

What about copyright?

When you are wondering what creative works fall under copyright law, they are some of the items as follows:

  • Photographs
  • Paintings
  • Plays
  • Poems
  • Films
  • Music

If you own the copyright to any of the items above, that means that you can control how the work is used and distributed. Thus, if you hired an independent contractor and they retained the power of copyright over the works they created and you did not, that means that your ability to reproduce and distribute that item may be quite limited. Just because you paid for it does not mean you own the rights to it. 

How can I own the copyright?

This should be done with the help of your intellectual property attorney when you draft up a contract with the independent contractor. You should clearly state in writing that you will be the one (considered by law) to be the author of the work they produce. Depending on the type of work created, you may not be able to do this, though. Some of the types of work that you can legally say you authored if an independent contractor created it are:

  • A test and the answers to the test
  • An atlas
  • A translation of a text
  • Any contribution to part of literature
  • An instructional text

Although not comprehensive, you can see that this list is fairly limited. If you have any other questions about intellectual property and owning the copyright for it, please reach out to a trusted intellectual property attorney now.

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