The Biggest Legal Trap When Using Contractors Not Employees
Be sure to document any business activity that is carried out by a contractor. Here's what you need to know about complying with the Copyright Act.
When using contractors rather than employees for any work remember the golden rule – put it in writing.
If you do not have your agreement in writing you will not own the intellectual property in the work the contractor creates – even though you are paying them for it. For example, let’s say you need some work done on your IT systems or software and you ask a contractor to help. If you do not have a clear assignment in writing of the copyright in the work that the contractor does for you, you will not end up owning the copyright in their work even though you paid for it. This is because the Copyright Act requires all assignments of copyright to be in writing.
The words of the assignment do not need to put in a hard copy document, the assignment could be done by way of clear words in an email. However, it would be best practice to have every contractor you use sign a simple Contractor Agreement which contains the assignment wording.
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The Helpful Lawyer
Dominic is the CEO of Lawpath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.