What rules apply with a transfer of copyright? Are you a freelance designer, musician, or writer? Do you hire them?
- Did you design a logo for a business that is now successful?
- Did you ghostwrite a book for an author that is now a bestseller?
- Did you write (or collaborate on) a song that is now a hit?
- Did you design a cartoon character that is now worth millions?
- Did this happen before 1980?
- Did you hire a freelancer to design the logo, which is at the core of your successful business?
- Did you hire a ghostwriter to write your now bestselling book?
- Did you hire someone to write (or collaborate on) your hit songs?
- Did this happen before 1980?
You may be in for the surprise of your life.
Have you noticed that the logo you designed back in the day has now become the center of a super brand, e.g., clothing line, super-premium liquor, coffee, or budding sports franchise?
Did you sign a “work-for-hire” agreement? Or not? If you did, was it prepared by a lawyer or did you acquire the “contract template” from a friend? The answer to any of the above questions will determine if you are in for big trouble, or in for the windfall of your life.
Copyright Termination (Can I get my copyright back?).
The United States Copyright Act provides, in relevant part, that 35-years after the transfer of a copyright, the creator may—if they choose—terminate that transfer. There are a number of factors that will determine if this is true, the least of which is if you signed a contract that can hold up in court.
What could it mean for you?
It means you could either be entitled to get back your valuable rights or get a piece of the profits derived from your creative work. Or, if you hired a logo designer/ ghostwriter/ musician, you might be entitled to say “good riddance” to them forever. Now is the time to find out where you stand.
Who should be paying attention?
- Creative People
- Graphic designers who designed logos
- Musicians who wrote songs and/or jingles
- Ghostwriters who wrote manuscripts, blogs, articles
- Authors who got published and were not happy with their publishers
- Anyone who created content for a tiny bit of money, and now sees their creation at the core of a successful brand
- Small business owners, owners of famous & successful brands with logos designed by freelancers
- Anyone who signed a work for hire template from a friend, the internet, a software package and did not have a lawyer review it
- Anyone who signed a work for hire agreement prepared by a lawyer
Don’t be like so many entrepreneurs who either totally ignore the warnings, or wait until it’s too late.
Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker
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