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Who owns the work a freelancer creates?

| Sep 11, 2020 | Employment Law |

Freelancers have become a huge part of the American economy. Whether you own a business and hire freelancers as part of your creative talent, it’s smart to understand how the ownership rights to any intellectual property is produced.

Here’s what you need to know:

The creator of an original work owns that work

The exact nature of the product you either create or buy will depend on your industry, but many freelancers work in the creative fields. Freelancers are typically hired to do things like website design, graphics, software code, blog articles and the like.

Under copyright laws, the moment an original work is created, it belongs solely to its creator. They have the sole right to distribute it, reproduce it, modify it, display it in public and so on. The creator can sell or transfer their rights to an original work, however, in whole or in part.

Contracts regarding intellectual property rights matter

If you’re a freelancer, that means that you need to pay attention to your contracts with your clients. Your contract needs to specify whether you are allowing the client to use your work for a specific period of time, for a single instance or whether you’re selling the complete rights to your work. If you sell the complete rights, your client becomes the owner of your work.

If you hire a freelancer, you naturally need to fully understand what you are getting. You don’t want to operate on the assumption that the code you purchased or the images you are using are yours forever if ownership reverts back to the creator.

Protecting your intellectual property rights and business interests is too critical to your success to leave the issue to chance. Talk to an experienced attorney about what you should do to protect your work or your brand.

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