What is meant by:
“Work for Hire”?
A “work for hire” (or “work made for hire”) is an item of creative content that was made on the job. Examples include written works, data analyses, visual presentations, songs, computer code and programs, and useful forms and booklets.
If the creation was made during the period of employment, and is related in some way to the job, the law says that it is a “work for hire” and thus owned entirely by the employer.
What happens if you created it before you started your job, but you used it on your job? Chances are your employer will consider it theirs.
What happens if you created it in your spare time, say, on the weekends? Chances are your employer will consider it theirs.
What happens if it was entirely yours, but you shared it with colleagues, and they used it on the job? Chances are your employer will consider it theirs.
Many employers go further, and insist that their employees sign agreements, often as part of their initial offer letters, that provide that even if you conceived of the idea behind the creation, or improved it, while employed, you must agree it is a “work for hire” and “hereby sign over all rights to the employer.”
As an employee, you need to be vigilant. You can take steps to protect your creative works from being considered a “work for hire” and thus lost.
Steps that you can take include, (i) not sharing your creative works during interviews, (ii) being vigilant about anything you sign, (iii) not bringing into the office or uploading your creative works to your employer’s computers, and (iv) not using your creative works in conjunction with your job.
Still further, you can seek a letter, memo or agreement with your prospective or present employers that protects your creative work(s) from being lost or given up.
You don’t need to lose your rights to your creative works, writings, and inventions. And, you definitely don’t need disputes, lawsuits or legal fees.
You do need to be careful. There is a fierce competition for great ideas, and the valuable creations that come from them.
Forewarned is forearmed.
More information on Protecting Your Creations can be found [here].
For a Model Letter requesting Rights in Your Creations on Your Present Job, just [Click Here.]
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