Copyright ownership and your rights

We regularly come across businesses that have found themselves locked into a particular graphic designer, marketing consultant or website developer because they have not taken care to ensure that they control and have copies of their intellectual property.

While strictly speaking in copyright law, the originator of a piece of work owns the copyright, whether it is the graphic designer who devised your logo and artwork, the copywriter who provided words, the photographer who did the pictures for your marketing collateral or the developer who created your website.

However, when commissioning such work it is essential to agree with the supplier concerned that what they are creating on your behalf should remain under your control and you can use it at your own discretion.

In essence this means that the originator grants you exclusive rights of use “in perpetuity”, ie forever.

You may be willing to allow them to use the material as an example of their work in order for them to promote their own business, but you should make it clear that it is only for this purpose and to name your company as the commissioner of the work.

You might wonder why this should be necessary.

Having copies, especially of design images, photographs, software and websites and the right to use them ensures you cannot be held to ransom by the supplier.

The original agreement which may be a simple purchase order should include evidence of your exclusive rights in the content and will help establish your claims against anyone else trying to use it.

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