Q&As

How do I commission a copyright work?

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Published on LexisPSL on 04/12/2013

The following IP Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How do I commission a copyright work?
  • If copyright is not dealt with expressly between the creator of the work and the commissioner?
  • If there is no express agreement on copyright, a licence might be implied
  • Can an assignment be implied?
  • Assigning copyright in a commissioned work
  • Moral rights
  • Employees or freelancers?
  • Key legislative provision
  • Key cases

How do I commission a copyright work?

Ownership issues may arise when companies contract out work projects to third parties who develop work on their behalf, such as an advertising agency commissioned to produce material for printed advertising or to be featured on the company's website. Therefore it is important to identify the owner of the copyright work. The first owner of any copyright in a work is usually the creator (known as the author), for example, an author, artist, designer or computer programmer. Title and ownership should be established before selling, licensing or adapting a work.

If copyright is not dealt with expressly between the creator of the work and the commissioner?

Where use of the commissioned work is not dealt with specifically under the terms of an agreement, the author retains the ability to control the ways in which the copyright work is exploited. This may affect the commissioner's ability to copy, publish and disseminate the work. A lack of certainty may lead to a legal dispute about what the commissioner can do; the author may seize the opportunity to negotiate further payment for use.

If there is no express agreement on copyright, a licence might be implied

Courts may (or may not) be willing to find that there is an implied licence from the contractor to the commissioner, for example where an event involving copyright

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