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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Hi, My producer partners and I created a song and I obtained

Resolved Question:

Hi,

My producer partners and I created a song and I obtained the copyright for the song listing the three of us as copyright claimants (I wrote the lyrics and I am the voice/artist, they created/produced the music). In regard to the "Rights and Permissions" portion of the copyright my name and information is listed as the contact.

I then hired a freelance animator via an online workplace to create an animated video to accompany the song. We did not want to look for an actual person to represent the song so I created an animated artist. The video is a work for hire and all of the contents within the animated video were created as per my specifications including and most importantly the main character who we want to promote as an actual recording artist. We have already uploaded one video to You Tube which we have attempted to monetize and have plans to create additional works using this animated artist but a question has risen regarding our "commercial use rights"; I am being asked to provide sufficient evidence that I am legally authorized to commercially use all of the elements within this video.

I would like to know what legal documents I should obtain; not only to present to You Tube as proof of my commercial use rights but to protect myself as co-owner of the musical work and sole owner of the animated character (music artist) and the video I created.

Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

Does your agreement with the animator unequivocally state that he/she was specially commissioned to create a "work made for hire?"
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes. All freelancers on elance.com know they were commissioned to create a work made for hire. The agreement is a part of their "hire documents"

Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Okay, thanks.

Just to be clear, 17 U.S.C. 101, provides in pertinent part:

A “work made for hire” is— (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

The point I'm about to make is that unless your signature and the signature of the freelancer appears on the same contract that the work is "a work made for hire," then it's not a work made for hire. Consequently, you may have a problem with youtube.com, if you submit the independent contractor agreement that is displayed by elance.com, since it appears to require no express signature from either the contracting party or the independent contractor.

That said, if you have a copyright registration from the U.S. copyright office for the musical work, and you have a copy of whatever contract the freelancer has agreed to containing the terminology "work made for hire," then that is all that is necessary (unless someone other than yourself was responsible for the video editing/production, in which case you would need a work made for hire agreement with that person, which would have to be submitted to youtube.com.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 34095
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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