If I was hired by a business as a freelance videographer to make them a one time video, who owns the copyright?

I work as a freelance videographer. What can I do with the video, what can they do? And can they monetize the video on Youtube for example to make money off of it if I have the copyright? Can I ask for revenue if I own the copyright but decide that they can monetize the video?

Asked on July 28, 2015 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you were hired to make them the video, then they own the copyright: anything created by someone who was hired to make that creative work is a "work made for hire" and copyright belongs to the hiring party (i.e. the client or customer), unless and only to the extent that there is a written agreement giving the copyright to the creating person (e.g. the videographer). Without such an agreement giving you the copyright, copyright belongs to the business which hired you, and they can do anything they like with it, including monetizing it; you have no rights to do anything with it.

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