“Work for Hire” – Music Industry

Have you heard about “Work for Hire”? This term usually uses related to the copyrights. The creator is either a person or a group who creates songs or computer programs. That creator has rights on copyrights of his work. Moreover, that creator can conduct exploitation on its work and of course he can get money from that.


Well. the “Work for Hire” is happened when the creator produce a work however his work does not have copyrights. How can this happen? It’s legal based on laws and regulations,  the respective copyrights will not fall into the creator BUT on the person who employs the creator. Laws treats the creator as if the creator did not involve in any process of the works. The employer has the respective rights.


For example is in MUSIC INDUSTRY. The musicians shall be very careful when sign the contract with the label “Work for Hire”. Because they do not have any rights on their works. The musician signs the contract with a company to create a jingle song for its commercial product advertisement. Usually on this kinda contract, the company wants to have the full rights of that song because of the commercial reason. Further, that contract will be stated “Work for Hire”. So, the company will have the full rights on that jingle. On the other hands, the respective musician will not receive any royalties from his work.


Please note that the “Work for Hire” is different to the transfer of ownership of works. For example the musician produces a song then sells it to the recording company or other musicians. In this case, the musician still have rights on its song. This is called LICENSING. The user shall pay the royalty to the respective musician.


The difference of Work for Hire and Transfer of Ownership. By transferring ownership to anyone or any companies, the creator may prepare a written agreement with anyone or any companies regarding the time period of the rights of ownership of that song can be used. After the  time period is  finished,  the creator can get back the copyrights of his works. While the Work for Hire, the creator can not have any rights at all on his work. The contract with label of work for hire shall be avoided.


The requirement of work for hire as follows e.g. the copyrightable work shall be considered as work for hire if the creator is one of the employees and create that works pursuant to his working relationship. For example: The fashion magazine employs a photograher. The respective  photographer creates pictures for the fashion pages . That fashion magazine will have copyrights on his work. If he is not the employee of that company,  then there shall be a written contract which explicitly stipulates that the work will be conducted for the Work for Hire. If the status of employee is not permanent, thus it shall be a written contract to describe that the work shall be conducted under “Work for Hire”. Usually the musicians under this circumtance. When the musicians receive contracts with title “Work for Hire”, they shall be carefull because they will not have the copyrights of their works.



Posted in: Law

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