Do I retain copyright or intellectual property rights for work completed while a non-contracted illegally unpaid intern?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Do I retain copyright or intellectual property rights for work completed while a non-contracted illegally unpaid intern?

I was recently taken on as an unpaid game content writing intern. I worked 45 hours a week and performing entry-level tasks. I believe the employer is violating the first 4 criteria of the FSLA section regarding unpaid internships, and I want to leave the company as I feel exploited. However, I produced an entirely new story arc and script along with character profiles that they intend to put in the game. Can I take my work back when I leave? I don’t believe it was a work for hire situation as I have never officially worked for the company and was in an illegal position when signing my NDA.

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whether the company violated labor laws or took liberty with the definition of an unpaid internship does not change the fact that if you were doing this as part of your "job" or "employment' and at the behest of your employer, it is, for copyright purposes, a "work for hire" and you do not have the rights to it. You also apparently signed an NDA as well, which depending on its terms, could reinforce that you do not the rights to this content.

You may well have a cause of action for wages if they violated the rules regarding unpaid internships; you may wish to speak with an employment law attorney.

 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption