Ask A Question
About Advertising and Media Liability and Insurance

Q: What constitutes "work for hire?"

A: "Work for hire" refers to the transfer of copyright that occurs when one of your employees creates something creative while working for your company. For instance, when an ad agency's employee writes a jingle, the jingle is considered "work for hire" which means the agency owns the copyright, not the employee.

Sounds simple enough, right? Here's where things get complicated:

  • An independent contractor (not employee) can sometimes retain copyright of created works.
  • In certain situations, an employee still may be able to claim ownership.

How do you make sure you own the creative work employees and contractors produce for you? For any employees, and especially for any contractors, you'll want to use employment or contractor agreements that assign ownership of created work to your company. That's crucial.

Upon hiring someone, you'll want to go the extra step:

  • Make sure your contracts clearly state that their work is considered "work for hire."
  • Ensure an employee or independent contractor transfers ownership of the work to you.

See the chapter "Work-for-Hire Agreements: Who Owns Creative Property?" in our media liability eBook for more on how work-for-hire agreements work.

Still have questions? Fill out the Q&A form. We'll get back to you with an in-depth answer.

Customer Rating 4.9 out of 5
Read Customer Reviews

Grab-n-Go Information

Free Media Liability eBook
Managing Media Liability - How to Protect Your Business from Your Clients' Bad Judgment
Browse eBook
Sample certificates
See a sample Certificate of Liability Insurance, the proof of coverage you need for most contracts.
View Sample
Sample Quotes & Cost Estimates
See what insurance really costs: actual quotes by policy & specialty.
Get Estimates
Ask A Question
Submit your questions about small business insurance and get answers from our experts.
Read Answers