Attorney Peter B. Goldman Answers Copyrights Question

In a recent Asked and Answered article featured in the June 26, 2015, edition of Inside Tucson Business, attorney Peter Goldman answers a reader’s question regarding copyrights.

In this article, the question asked was:

“If an employee creates a piece of software or other product, who owns the product and copyrights in it?”

Attorney Goldman responded:

Peter Goldman

Attorney Peter B. Goldman

The Copyright Act says that work created by an employee in the scope of her employment is a “work made for hire” and is owned by the employer.  If an employee creates software or another product as part of her job the employer retains ownership.  Employers won’t retain ownership if the software or product is created in the employee’s spare time, outside the scope of employment.

Different rules apply for independent contractors, freelancers and commission workers, such as architects and software developers.  The most common problems are caused by software, supplementary works, contributions to collective works like a magazine, and works ordered as part of an audiovisual work. These products are owned by the creator unless they fit into one of the Copyright Act’s work-for-hire categories and the worker signs a proper written agreement with the business stating that the work is a work made for hire.

It’s always best to have a proper, signed work-for-hire agreement with the person you engage.  Don’t leave it to the courts to decide.

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Peter Goldman welcomes questions regarding his field of practice, Intellectual Property Law, and Business and Commercial Law. For more information or to contact Peter B. Goldman, please call 520-322-5000, or email