WARNING Someone Else May Legally Own Your Website, Your Software and Even Your Content (No Joke)


First, this is not legal advice.

Second, this is not legal advice – consult your attorney, your adviser, your psychic, etc. Just do not take this as legal advice.

Okay, now that we've got the legal disclaimers out of the way...

You might not own your own intellectual property. Yes, that sounds like a contradiction, but oddly enough it's not.

If you create all of your own content, your website, your proprietary software, etc., then you are almost certainly the legal owner.

HOWEVER, if you outsource the creation of any of these things to someone else – for example – you hire someone to write articles for you, to create a sales page, to build a website, to create some software, etc., then you might not be the owner.

The person you HIRED to create these for you has copyrightable authorship, UNLESS you have a “Work made for hire” agreement in place with each person who creates these works for you.

The Copyright Act basically says that you own the copyrights embodied in “copyrightable authorship” in any materials created by your independent contractor only if:

You have a written agreement with them that is signed by the independent contractor that states the work product is a “work made for hire.”

If you do not have this written signed work made for hire agreement, then even though you paid for the work, legally the independent contractor owns the work product – not you.

Again, this isn't legal advice. Do your own research starting here:

First, this is not legal advice.

Second, this is not legal advice – consult your attorney, your adviser, your psychic, etc. Just do not take this as legal advice.

Okay, now that we've got the legal disclaimers out of the way...

You might not own your own intellectual property. Yes, that sounds like a contradiction, but oddly enough it's not.

If you create all of your own content, your website, your proprietary software, etc., then you are almost certainly the legal owner.

HOWEVER, if you outsource the creation of any of these things to someone else – for example – you hire someone to write articles for you, to create a sales page, to build a website, to create some software, etc., then you might not be the owner.

The person you HIRED to create these for you has copyrightable authorship, UNLESS you have a “Work made for hire” agreement in place with each person who creates these works for you.

The Copyright Act basically says that you own the copyrights embodied in “copyrightable authorship” in any materials created by your independent contractor only if:

You have a written agreement with them that is signed by the independent contractor that states the work product is a “work made for hire.”

If you do not have this written signed work made for hire agreement, then even though you paid for the work, legally the independent contractor owns the work product – not you.

Again, this isn't legal advice. Do your own research starting here:

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

and here:

http://worksmadeforhire.com/

Is this something you need to worry about? Perhaps. If it turns out you don't own the work and the contractor does, that contractor can turn around and sell the rights to someone else – including your competitor.

To be safe rather than sorry, have your outsourcers sign a “work made for hire” agreement for everything you commission in the future. You can get sample “work made for hire” agreements online. This way if there is ever a question of who owns the work, you'll be able to back up your claim of ownership.

and here:

http://worksmadeforhire.com/

Is this something you need to worry about? Perhaps. If it turns out you don't own the work and the contractor does, that contractor can turn around and sell the rights to someone else – including your competitor.

To be safe rather than sorry, have your outsourcers sign a “work made for hire” agreement for everything you commission in the future. You can get sample “work made for hire” agreements online. This way if there is ever a question of who owns the work, you'll be able to back up your claim of ownership.

#outsourcing #businessoutsourcing #contentmarketing #marketingcontent