Intellectual Property Law
Ask an Intellectual Property Lawyer. Get an Answer ASAP.
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?
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).