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Copyright in recorded training material

 
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philmwebb
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:28 pm    Post subject: Copyright in recorded training material Reply with quote

In 2009, my employer of the time undertook a project to develop over 120 hours of video-based training on software engineering (seriously yawn-inducing stuff for non-geeks!) I project-managed the scripting and production of slides, wrote about 20 hours of the script, and presented probably about 80 hours of it.

I was made redundant in autumn 2010, by which time the company had not exploited the material in any way, but they are now beginning to release DVDs.

My contract with my employer was for the provision of consultancy and training to its clients, and there is no assignment of any rights in my image on video. In fact, when I joined the company in autumn 2008 the VBT project had not been conceived.

Can anyone advise whether I might have any rights in the script that I wrote or in the video material which I presented? The other presenters, who unlike me were not employees of the company, had signed contracts covering their rights, but I had no such contract for the video-based training.

I fear the worst, but hope for the best Confused

Thanks for your help,
Phil
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Phil,
You are right to fear the worst! Copyright in any work done in the course of employment is owned by the employer. In the jargon of the law they are the 'first owner'.
As contractors and others (eg interns) who are hired on terms which do not amount to employment in the full sense are not affected by this provision, their contracts may well contain a clause assigning the copyright (and other intellectual property rights) to the firm employing them.
Nowadays, a similar clause also often appears in the contract of employment of full time employees where it is likely that their work will be creative. This tends to cover a loophole which previously existed where something was created by an employee, but it was not part of his job description (so not 'in the course of his employment') and thus the company did not own the IP right. The most well-known case is that of an accountant who gave lectures on financial matters in his spare time, who was found to own the copyright in his lecture scripts because the company he worked for employed him to advise clients, not give lectures.
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philmwebb
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks anyway Andy. Nice to have some form of confirmation one way or another.

I just have to hope that any publicity around them and the significant visibility of me will cause people to ask for the guy from the video to do some work for them... Smile

Time to make sure I post positive comments on all the YouTube clips they've put up Smile
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Phil,
Unfortunately you have no automatic right to a credit where the work is done in the course of employment, but if you are on good terms with your former employer, you could ask for a credit in any accompanying training material or literature - I assume it's too late for a credit in the video itself. It's worth remembering if you do any work like this in the future as a contractor that you should insist on a credit even though you agree to assign copyright to the company commissioning you.
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philmwebb
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Credit isn't a problem in this case (at least in terms of the performance) - each session begins "Hi, I'm Phil Webb...." and I'm on-screen for the bulk of the show.

Thanks again. Happy to close this off now.
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