How Does a Work-for-Hire Agreement Affect My IP?

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Nowadays, more and more employers are sourcing independent workers to fill the gaps in their employment base and complete specific job-related tasks. But before taking them in, an employer may ask an independent worker to sign a work-for-hire agreement. Continue reading to learn how a work-for-hire agreement may affect your ownership rights and how an experienced New Jersey Internet intellectual property consultant at The Ingber Law Firm can help you navigate this contract.

By definition, what is a work-for-hire agreement?

Essentially, a work-for-hire agreement is an agreement in which an independent worker gives up a portion of their ownership rights over the particular good or service they produce for their employer.

For example, an employer may hire a freelance writer to write content for their company’s website. With this, a work-for-hire agreement would require the freelance writer to give up their rights to their written work. In turn, the employer would own the written work and be able to use it for their company in any capacity they desire. There may or may not be a term in the agreement that allows the freelance writer to get a byline or any other type of credit.

How does a work-for-hire agreement affect my intellectual property?

To specify, when signing a work-for-hire agreement, an independent worker acknowledges that the job-related, original work they make or develop during their services with the company constitutes “works for hire” under United States Copyright Law. With this, they are agreeing to the following clauses:

  • An independent worker agrees to assign the company all their rights, titles, and interests in all the job-related, original works.
  • An independent worker agrees to waive all moral rights concerning all the job-related, original works.
  • An independent worker agrees to acknowledge that the company owns all the job-related, original works.

Once this transfer of ownership is complete, the company will begin reaping the profits that your original work is producing. This is because they now have the right to sell, duplicate, rent, or otherwise use your original work in any way.

But before the company begins to earn profits, the independent worker must ensure that they are fully compensated for their services. In other words, the independent worker must ensure that there is a clause within the work-for-hire agreement that reviews their payment terms. Notably, since they may be unable to profit further from their original work, the independent worker might want to negotiate a higher payout. They may argue that you should be paid more than if you kept some or all of the ownership rights, to make the agreement worthwhile.

This is all to say that you must take your work-for-hire agreement seriously. This starts with retaining the services of a skilled Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer. Contact The Ingber Law Firm today.