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Working with Freelancers: ownership and use of the work product

blank  Under copyright laws in the EU, Switzerland, and the UK, the freelancer owns the copyright in the work product they create for you.

blank  There is no automatic transfer of ownership to you just because you pay the freelancer to create the work product for you.

blank  To transfer the copyright, the freelancer needs to assign (transfer) the copyright to you in writing and sign this.

blank  A good way to do this is through a written contract for services between you and the freelancer, which has a clause to transfer ownership of the work product and the related copyright to you.

blank  If you are working with a freelancer on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr, check their terms and conditions to see whether you own the work product and related copyright.

blank  Even if the platform terms and conditions say you, the customer, own the work product and copyright, ask the freelancer to confirm this in writing, e.g. by sending you an email.

blank  For certain work products, e.g. voice-overs, photos, videos, you may have to pay additional fees for commercial use, here you don’t actually own the work product instead you are given a limited right to use it for specified purposes. You should check that these purposes cover your intended use.

blank  The freelancer may want to re-use certain elements of the work product with other customers, for example, pre-existing generic elements not created specifically for you and that don’t contain confidential material.

blank  In such a case you should state in your written contract that the freelancer retains ownership in such elements but you as the customer have a non-exclusive right to use them for your business purposes.

blank  Such license should be royalty-free i.e. you don’t need to pay any additional money to use these elements. Also, the license should be perpetual i.e. you can use it for as long as you like.

blank Kelly Logan

Founder and Managing Partner

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