If I’ve been working freelance for a company producing graphic design used on products for sale but we haven’t stipulated a contract for the licensing/transfer of the rights of the work from me to them, do I still own the copyright?

Asked on September 8, 2015 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not own the copyright if you are commissioned hired paid etc. to make graphic designs for someone else, the rights to the design will belong to the person/business who hired you as "works made for hire." If you had come up with designs on your own, then after they were complete, "pitched" them to others, that would be different, and they would not own the designs unless and until they bought them from you pursuant to some licensing agreement. But when you are hired to make the designs, they are not yours, and the rights and copyright belong to the one who hired you.

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