Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

This post will address ownership of intellectual property (specifically copyright) in commissioned works and cover the following four areas:

  1. What work can be commissioned?
  2. Who owns the copyright in commissioned works?
  3. What rights does the party commissioning the work have?
  4. What if the original author is still exercising rights in the work?

What works can be commissioned?

Any work can be commissioned – from software to music, films to photography (as long as the work can be produced in a tangible form and recorded).

Who owns the copyright in commissioned works?

Under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (so for works produced after 1 October 1989) the author (or creator) of the work owns the first copyright in the work. This means that the author has the right to prevent others from copying his or her work and to seek redress should his or rights be infringed upon.

If a work has been commissioned there are different ways of approaching ownership of copyright in a work depending upon the type of work that has been produced:

  1. Literary, Musical, Dramatic and Artistic works
  2. Sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements
  3. Joint authorship

Literary, Musical, Dramatic and Artistic works

Unless there is an express or implied contractual agreement otherwise the ownership of the copyright in a literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work will remain with the original author. This means that if, for example, Mr Smith was commissioned to write a book by Penguin that he would retain ownership of the copyright in the book. This would probably be unsatisfactory to Penguin and they would therefore probably require an express contractual term indicating that they were either licenced or assigned ownership of copyright in the book.

Sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements

There are specific rules relating to the ownership of copyright in sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements. These are too complex to cover in detail in this post but will be covered in later posts.

Joint authorship

As covered in a previous post, it is possible for ownership of copyright to be shared jointly by multiple authors should it not be possible to distinguish the work of each author from the other and should all parties have made a “significant and original” contribution to the work. There are specific rules relating to joint authorship in film, broadcasts, and computer software (relating to computer gaming).

What rights does the party commissioning the work have?

As stated above, for the commissioning party to own the intellectual property in the work (the copyright) there must be an express contractual agreement as to this. If the ownership of the copyright has been assigned or licenced to the commissioning party then the commissioning party assumes the rights that the original author of the work would have had – for example the ability to prevent others from copying their work and to further licence and assign rights in the work.

What if the original author is still exercising rights in the work?

If the ownership of the copyrighted work has been licenced or assigned to the commissioning party and the original author of the work is still exercising rights relating to intellectual property ownership in the work then the commissioning party can either:

  1. Seek an injunction against the original author; and/or
  2. Pursue the original author for damages as a result of their infringement of the commissioning party’s intellectual property rights

There are also other remedies that the commissioning party can exercise (depending on the nature of the infringement) which will not be covered in this post.

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    370 Reviews

    Glyn B

    Provided a great service, covered all my requirements

    Posted 6 hours ago

    Fidel A

    Redmans Solicitors recently helped me navigate a recent employment termination settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill is very professional and you will be in good hands with him. I score Redmans 4 out of 5 because things had to move fast and felt the team member assigned to my case wasn't very responsive at times. Having said that, I was very happy with the outcome and have no hesitation in recommending their services.

    Posted 23 hours ago

    Nigel A

    Chris Hadrill is hugely impressive - the right blend of assured calm and savvy professionalism. I've already recommended him to friends and family.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Matt O

    I was hugely impressed with the ease of being able to work with Redmans Solicitors and their professional approach. Mel was really clear around the process, and costings required and I felt comfortable throughout. I would certainly recommend.

    Posted 1 day ago

    Bryan G

    Great response, and also happy to assist

    Posted 1 day ago

    David L

    I was made a settlement offer by my employer to terminate my emplyment early. Redmans helped me understand the offer, and ensured that it was fair for someone in my position. They made a very stressful situation much easier. Excellent service.

    Posted 2 days ago

    Anonymous

    I can highly recommend Redmans. The service was professional and prompt and I would not hesitate to use them again. Thanks

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Overall I am satisfied with the performance from Redmans. The reason I have given 4 stars is that I had quite a lot difficulty in contacting the representative which was initially nominated for me. However, when I contacted Chris instead, he was excellent over the phone and secured a great outcome in short order. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Chris and Redmans were a great help. Effective and efficient, quick response from my first enquiry and then straightforward and attentive throughout with ultimately a positive outcome. I will use them again and recommend them.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Marie P

    Great service, quick responses, good advice and all in a no nonsense, no jargon manner. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Rana was amazingly thorough and professional!

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    I am extremely happy with the legal advice I was provided with. My case was resolved to the best of my expectations. Thank you very much for your professional help.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Shahzad R

    Chris and his team were excellent. They provided sound advice and consultation that resulted in more cash than was offered. Would definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Sanjay B

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mel Chin, for all her support during my settlement process. Where she provided a professional service and was understanding. I would confidently recommend Redmans Solicitors to my friends and family. Thank you and wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Paul O

    Excellent response time and communication during my dealings with Redmans

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gil T

    I don’t normally write reviews, but thought it was time on this occasion. Just wanted to say that I highly recommend Redmans - especially Rana Tandon, who helped me navigate around my employment contract. Rana was meticulous and thorough and all over my needs. Would I use Redmans again ? ..absolutely

    Posted 1 month ago

    Stephanie D

    Very thorough and professional service. I was very nervous about my employment case, as I had never dealt with anything like it before. However, the solicitors who handled my case made sure I understood everything. I was never kept in the dark and Redmans kept me constantly informed about what was going on with my case. I would definitely recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Richard S

    Chris and Sacha were great throughout the entire process. Chris was very helpful once the initial discussions with my company began and before we agreed there was a case. Sacha was very responsive, patient and helpful throughout ensuring I felt I had the right information to make the best decision on next steps. A close friend and wife have both used Redmans in the past few years for unfair dismissals and the service continues to be first-class and I would strongly recommend them again. They definitely help reduce the anxiety that comes with uncertainty around new processes and situations. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jianya

    Very nice and patient went through the whole document with me.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Susan L

    Very helpful and led me through the redundancy process.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jennice

    I was very impressed with the service that I received, and the speed in which it was handled. I would recommend them to a family member

    Posted 1 month ago