Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property Law Questions? Ask a Lawyer
A customer is claiming ownership of all files on my hard drive that may or may not relate to the final design; including fonts, rejected concepts, intermediary work not finalized or used in the final website design. I had to assign the copyrights to the customer who was holding payment hostage. The assignment does not reference in any way the physical property, only the IP rights, yet they claim to own everything I have done and are trying to prevent me from using my own work. Can they do this? Aren't the rights and material copies distinct and separate?
Thank you for your reply. I understand the transfer of rights, however my questions refers to the fact that the agreement that I signed transfers ownership of only the rights, not ownership of the work itself.
Perhaps I do not understand the full meaning of the following from the US Code:
§ 202 . Ownership of copyright as distinct from ownership of material object. Ownership of a copyright, or of any of the exclusive rights under a copyright, is distinct from ownership of any material object in which the work is embodied. Transfer of ownership of any material object, including the copy or phonorecord in which the work is first fixed, does not of itself convey any rights in the copyrighted work embodied in the object; nor, in the absence of an agreement, does transfer of ownership of a copyright or of any exclusive rights under a copyright convey property rights in any material object.
I believe this means I own the work and they own only the rights - so I cannot do anything with the work without their approval and it also means that I do not have to give them the work - other than what I have already provided which is the final files to the project. Is this correct?