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Copyright at my workplace

Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:14 am
by Worker1
I am working as an administrator for a UK based company. Since taking on the job two years ago I have done a lots of additional work involving photography, graphic design, and web site development for the company. Virtually all of this work has been done in my own time and I have not received additional payment.

Where do I stand in relation to the copyright of this work done?

If I leave the company can I remove all my copyrighted work and/or ask for the rights to this work to be purchased from me?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:23 pm
by CopyrightAid
Hi and welcome to the forum.

Section 11 of the CD&P Act states
Section 11: First ownership of copyright.

11.-(1) The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following provisions.

(2) Where a literary, dramatic, 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.
So legally the default position (without an agreement to the contrary) is that if you created this outside of your 'normal employment' (which it sounds like from you description), then you will be the copyright owner.

In my experience, often the employer does not share this view :roll:, so it is best to get some agreement up front if possible - just to avoid 'confusion'.

If you need some sources to back you up, a good copy of the CP&D Act is available at Jenkins website (I prefer this version to the official HMSO texts as it gets updated so you can read it 'as is' - rather than cross referencing subsequent statutory instruments)

Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:16 pm
by AndyJ
If you have an employment contract, take a look to see if there is a clause in it about intellectual property rights. This is a fairly standard clause to be found in modern employment contracts (it will cover things like letters, memos and emails you write on behalf of the company) and there may be a specific mention of the circumstances you describe if it forms part of the job description. If the work you have done doesn't form part of the job descrption and there is no blanket contract term about IPR, then as CopyrightAid says, you will probably be able to claim copyright and to stengthen your position you should seek to licence your work to the company. By just letting them use your work without payment (even a nominal payment would do) or attribution, weakens your position if there is a dispute when you finally leave the company and want to take your work with you. Too complicated to go into here, but the company could claim estoppel because you had de facto waived your rights by not seeking payment or accreditation for your work over a long period which they took to mean that you had no intention of ever enforcing your rights.

Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 9:23 pm
by Worker1
Many thanks for your replies.

Things have moved on today as I have been asked to leave my position within the company and as I expected the owners had not given any thought to copyright or IP.

There is no clause in my contract or job description about copyright or IP. I have presented them with a detailed report listing all the jobs done and time spent on the additional work totalling over 1,000 hours in the last year alone. The report also lists all computer files generated complete with date and times created. All of these files are on my PC at home.

I will be seeing a solicitor within the next couple of days to prepare for what will probably be a nasty battle.

Posted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:39 am
by AndyJ
Sorry to hear about the job. Make sure you choose a solicitor who specialises in employment and/or IP law. The latter are not that common on the average High Street. Good luck!