Thursday, April 10, 2008

Work for Hire

Works for Hire generally refer to creative work done within the scope of an artist’s or author’s employment or as a contribution to a collective effort such as moviemaking. Without an agreement to the contrary, works produced for others by a “freelancer” (in other words, an independent contractor) remain the property of the freelancer. Unfortunately there are increasing attempts by some art buyers to force freelancers to sign work-for-hire contracts. This is an extremely bad idea for an artist because it means the art buyer gets the copyright in the work as though the buyer did the work and not the artist. Furthermore, if the artist uses some portion of his work in another piece he could be sued for copying himself. There is no reason for a freelance artist to ever sign a work-for-hire contract unless the money is very, VERY, GOOD! Otherwise, the dangers far outweigh the advantages to his personal career, and allowing cheap art buyers to believe they can get away with this is injurious to the field in general. The freelancer, of course, can consider any number of non-exclusive licensing arrangements with others, provided that the freelancer does not make the mistake of entering into a subsequent license with one party which violates or contradicts the provisions of a prior license to another. The freelancer would do well to consult with an attorney on licensing arrangements.

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