Work For Hire Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Work For Hire, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Work For Hire?

“Work performed while under contract to an employer. In such instances, the employer is considered the work’s creator and owns the copyright to the work.

History and Meaning of Work For Hire

The concept of work for hire dates back hundreds of years, but its modern legal definition is relatively recent. In the United States, the legal definition of work for hire was added to the Copyright Act of 1909, which established that an employer is considered the author of a work and owns the copyright if the work was created by an employee in the scope of their employment.

The current definition of work for hire can be found in the Copyright Act of 1976. It extends the concept beyond traditional employment relationships to include works created by independent contractors, provided the work satisfies certain criteria.

Examples of Work For Hire

  1. A marketing agency is hired to create a new logo for a company. The marketing agency creates the logo and transfers ownership of the copyright to the company as part of the fee.

  2. A video production company is hired to create a promotional video for a hotel. The company creates the video, and ownership of the copyright is transferred to the hotel.

  3. A software development company is hired to create a custom software program for a client. The company creates the program and retains ownership of the copyright, but grants the client a license to use the software.

Legal Terms Similar to Work For Hire

  1. Copyright assignment: The transfer of ownership of copyright from the creator to another party.
  2. License agreement: A legally binding agreement that grants permission to use a specific work, usually in exchange for payment.
  3. Exclusive license: A license agreement that grants exclusive rights to use a work to a specific person or entity.