Lots of designers, bloggers, and influencers have questions about the structure and format for agreements to license their creative content. This post will provide some basic information that will set the stage. Please remember that while the issues discussed below are important, there are many other considerations, depending on the specific details of the parties in the transaction and the type of content being licensed. Also remember that licensing and assignment are very different things so we are only talking about licensing here.
What is a “Work Made for Hire?”
If you’ve been around the block more than once, you’ve probably heard the phrase “work made for hire.” It’s pretty common in the blogging world and a lot of bloggers think they understand it. Chances are they’re wrong. Few people, even lawyers, really understand what the “work made for hire” doctrine is, what it covers and, most importantly, what it does not cover. Most people think that “work made for hire” is a legal rule that can automatically transfer ownership of creative content from one person or company to another. While that is true in a few cases, it is not true for many, many situations – including the ones you are most likely to encounter.
So, buckle up, it’s going to get a little tricky but if you stick with me, you’ll be glad you did.
I was at SnapConf this past week. I had a great time and so did many of the other participants. However, I was cornered on several occasions by bloggers who were really concerned about some contract issues that they were facing. They felt overwhelmed, unqualified, and even fearful and didn’t know how to move forward. My discussions with these bloggers reinforced the fact that contracts are a rapidly growing part of a blogger’s world. Since I work with contracts all the time, it seems like a basic primer on contracts from a lawyer’s perspective might be helpful in reducing the stress factor associated with contracts.