Contract for services found to be an employer/employee relationship

 

You are probably aware that where copyrighted work is created by an employee in the course of his/her employment, the employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary). 

The position is different if you work under a ‘contract for services’, as you will usually then retain copyright in any work you produce, unless there is a contractual agreement to the contrary.

Court case

In a recent case in the High Court, one of the questions that the court had to determine was the ownership of copyrighted work in a complicated contract for services arrangement.

The court carefully considered all the facts and circumstances and found that the true relationship between the parties was that of employer and employee, even though they called it something else, and as a result the ownership of the copyrighted work was construed accordingly. 

This case is offers a timely reminder that you must carefully consider your position around intellectual property and your dealings with others.  

Also, when you commission someone to create copyright for you, ensure that you agree in writing that you will be the owner of the copyright in that work. If you don’t, the person or organisation you commissioned will be the first legal owner of the copyright. 

Tags IP, Intellectual property, IP rights, employee, employer, copyright, Markel Law, Markel Law Hub