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BH
BH, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 313
Experience:  IP and Entertainment Attorney
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Hello! I have a discussion going on with a person I wanted

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Hello! I have a discussion going on with a person I wanted to publish a children's book with. She is the Author of the text, we agreed (no contracts signed) that I would create illustrations for her book based on some suggestions she provided with the text of the book. The suggestions she provided didn't have many details, just what should be depicted there in general. I did all the creative work on illustrations (style, look-and-feel, faces of characters, etc.) Now that everything is ready she wants me to sign a "work-for-hire" contract stating that the work I did was in fact work for hire. She never mentioned that particularly in our conversations. Can my work in this case be considered as "work-for-hire"? Could you advise what type of contract better suits this case? Thank you!

bridgeth :

Hi. I will assist you in answering this question.

bridgeth :

Under copyright law, a work-for-hire agreement must be in writing in order to be valid. Therefore, even if she claims that it was orally agreed that your work would be a work-for-hire, that is not enough to make it so.

bridgeth :

At this point, since you had no written contract, you own 100% of the copyright in your images.

bridgeth :

Your best option would be to enter into a license agreement whereby you give her a license to use your work within the book (or any other media that you see fit) for a specific term (or in perpetuity if you would like). She will probably want it to be an exclusive license so that you do not use the illustrations in any other context.

bridgeth :

Ultimately you and her will have to come to an agreement on the exact nature of your relationship, whether you end up licensing the work or ultimately assigning it to her for a fee (or for a fee and a percentage of profits) is up to you.

bridgeth :

Let me know if you have any further questions or would like for me to elaborate on any points.

bridgeth :

I can also give you references if you want to learn more about work-for-hire.

Customer:

Thank you very much for your answer! If you have any references about work-for-hire I could read some time later, that would be great. Or maybe references on licencing my work for her to use.

bridgeth :

Sure. Just one second.

bridgeth :

Here is a good primer on work-for-hire: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

bridgeth :

This has a little bit of information on assignment vs. implied license: http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/license.html

Customer:

This all sounds good! Thank you so much again for the quick response!

bridgeth :

But what you will be doing is an explicit written license. It just means that you retain ownership and allow another to use the work for a specific period of time, in a certain media and certain territory. You can add any other restrictions that you like.

bridgeth :

You can do a google search for copyright license and get a better idea of all that goes into them.

bridgeth :

Hope this helps and good luck with your negotiations!

Customer:

Yes, that's what I was looking for - grant licence to her but keep the copyright

Customer:

Thanks again! Will do some research on the licencing.

bridgeth :

You're welcome! If you were satisfied with my answer, please rate it good or better.

Customer:

:) will definitely do..

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