From JDSupra, Jordan L. Walbesser offers 7 intellectual property recommendations for startup companies, including reminders that a startup needs intellectual property agreements with freelancers and independent contractors. In addition, Jordan writes:
4. “Work made for hire” doesn’t work for software.
There’s a bit of mystery surrounding “work made for hire,” especially when it comes to software. The “work made for hire” doctrine is important because it automatically transfers copyright ownership from the employee/contractor to the hiring party.
Section 101 of the Copyright Law defines a “work made for hire.” If an employee develops software within the scope of his or her employment, the employer owns the copyright. No assignment necessary.
If an independent contractor develops software without a written assignment to the hiring party, the contractor is the author and owner of the developed software…
However, the statutory “work made for hire” definition does not include literary works, such as software made by independent contractors. If an independent contractor develops software without a written assignment to the hiring party, the contractor is the author and owner of the developed software.
Read the full story at 7 Essential IP Law Considerations for Startup Entrepreneurs