You may have come across works-made-for-hire in your authoring journeys. In a nutshell, a work-made-for-hire assigns the copyright to the person or entity who employs or commissions your work. Section 101 of the Copyright Act defines a work-made-for-hire as:
“a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment or b a work specially ordered or commissioned for use
(1) as a contribution to a collective work,
(2) as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work,
(3) as a translation,
(4) as a supplementary work,
(5) as a compilation,
(6) as an instructional text,
(7) as a test,
(8) as answer material for a test, or
(9) as an atlas,
if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.”
Determining what a work-made-for-hire can be complex, but for our purposes, let’s assume you’ve about to enter into such an arrangement. What are some tips that can help you?
- Negotiate a kill fee (if applicable). If the agreement is with your employer, you may not be able to do this, but if it’s with an individual, negotiate a fee if the project doesn’t come to fruition.
Negotiate a fee - Try to negotiate a fee paid upon signing the agreement and once your work is accepted.
- Negotiate revisions. Negotiate time to revise the work if the individual or entity doesn’t accept it. 30-60 days is the norm.
- Negotiate Employment Status. Make sure to define your employment status as an independent contractor. If not, many states may infer an employment relationship, where you may have to deduct taxes, pay workers’ compensation insurance, and make other employer-employee accommodations.