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

Share →

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

    320 Reviews

    Anonymous

    Efficient and quick service!

    Posted 2 days ago

    Karen B

    Quick response very helpful Issue raised dealt with very quickly

    Posted 5 days ago

    Carmen T

    Redmans give Great service and advice on reading contracts. They can explain all the solicitors jargon into words that you can understand. I received excellent service an I will use them again and again.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Anonymous

    Very grateful for Mel’s efforts in handling my case from start to finish which I would have found very stressful without it. She was very professional, friendly and we had a positive outcome. Highly recommend.

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Nalin W

    Mel Chin was my Legal Executive when I engaged the services of Redmans Solicitors to help with a redundancy matter. She was incredibly approachable and professional from start to finish. Specially I have to mention regarding prompt reply to all my email queries, It was super quick. I would thoroughly recommend Mel Chin. Many Thanks

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I'd highly recommend Redmans Solicitors. Mel was very helpful and assisted me throughout my case.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 1 month ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 2 months ago

    ""

    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 2 months ago

    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Fleeta C

    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 2 months ago