Saturday, May 11, 2024

Work-made-for-hire and Copyright Termination


                I recently came across an article discussing a copyright lawsuit involving the original script to Road House. You can read the article here. But, in short, the original writer filed for a copyright termination of transfer to reclaim ownership of the script, and the studio counterclaimed stating that the work was done as a work-made-for-hire and is therefore ineligible for copyright termination of transfer. The wrinkle in this story is that the company employing the writer was the writer’s own company. This is a good reminder to be aware of who you are structuring your business deals and making sure you are not inadvertently losing your IP rights.

                It is common for many creators to start an LLC or company. In many cases, it can be financially advantageous to do so. However, if you are contracting with other companies through your own company, it is possible that the work you perform for your own company could be considered a work-made-for-hire for your own company.

                I covered the basics of copyright termination previously, but to recap, after 35 years, an author can file to reclaim ownership of a copyright that they previously transferred. However, this right does not apply to works-made-for-hire.

                If you work through a company, you should carefully consider how the company is structured and set up and the contractual arrangements you enter via it. If you are concerned about copyright ownership issues and want to preserve your ability to terminate a copyright transfer, you should consult with an attorney to evaluate your options.

No comments:

Post a Comment