Q&As

With employees largely working from home in 2020 and 2021 and outside of traditional office working hours, what does this blurring of home and work life mean for the ownership of ‘creative’ works? In these circumstances, how can tech and media companies protect their interests in their employment contracts?

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Produced in partnership with Dr Catherine Cotter of Slaughter and May
Published on LexisPSL on 12/04/2021

The following IP Q&A produced in partnership with Dr Catherine Cotter of Slaughter and May provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • With employees largely working from home in 2020 and 2021 and outside of traditional office working hours, what does this blurring of home and work life mean for the ownership of ‘creative’ works? In these circumstances, how can tech and media companies protect their interests in their employment contracts?
  • With employees largely working from home in 2020 and 2021 and outside of traditional office working hours, what does this blurring of home and work life mean for the ownership of ‘creative’ works?
  • Freelancers/independent contractors
  • Employees
  • In these circumstances, how can tech and media companies protect their interests in their employment contracts?

With employees largely working from home in 2020 and 2021 and outside of traditional office working hours, what does this blurring of home and work life mean for the ownership of ‘creative’ works?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed the way that we work in that more of us work outside of the physical office, at unconventional times and with our own computer equipment. In doing so, it has raised the profile of the question of who owns materials created ‘for work’ or ‘on the job’.

The pandemic has not changed what you need to consider in determining who owns a copyright work in these circumstances.

The starting point for the ownership of copyright materials is section 11 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988), the key provisions of which state:

‘…(1) The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following provisions.

(2) Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work of film is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary.’

Copyright is a fact-sensitive area of law and the agreement setting out the terms of engagement of an independent contractor, freelancer or employee will often contain specific terms governing who will own copyright works created under

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