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Works created for an employer

In the case of a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, the author or creator of the work is also the first owner of any copyright in it. The only exception to this is where the work is made by an employee in the course of his or her employment.

Where a written, theatrical, musical or artistic work, or a film, is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work (subject to any agreement to the contrary).  In the course of employment is not defined by the Act but in settling disputes the courts have typically had to decide whether the employee was working under 'contract of service'.

Where a person works under a 'contract for services' he may be considered by the courts to be an independent contractor and his works may then be considered to be commissioned works.

An employer should keep careful records of which person(s) created the work for them which they own.  The period of copyright protection may still be linked to the date of the death of the creator(s) - that is the employee(s).

Fast Facts

  • Works created for an employer can be found in Chapter I section 11(2) of the Act.