I am providing courses to an organisation that wants to employ me but I am concerned about owning the IP in materials that I create. I know that employers typically own the IP in works created by employees, so is there anything that I can do about this?
To safeguard your copyright for future courses developed by you while employed, consider the following:
- Is it actually an employment relationship? It may be that the relationship is actually one of self employed contractor, in which case you would own the copyright in your courses unless you assign the copyright to the employer or any other third party. You can check using our employment status checklist and also use the HMRC’s status indicator tool – https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/check-employment-status-for-tax/disclaimer
- Understand copyright fundamentals: In the UK, creators of original work automatically own the copyright in that work (without the need for registration). However, employers generally own the copyright for work created during employment unless otherwise agreed upon.
- Discuss employment terms: When negotiating your employment contract, address your concerns about preserving copyright ownership for your course materials. Attempt to agree on terms related to intellectual property ownership, ideally with an express provision that all courses and materials created by you are owned by you (and that the company will make any necessary assignments to effect this) or if that is not possible, you could discuss co-ownership, licensing rights, or revenue-sharing for courses developed during employment.
- Document agreements: Ensure that any agreements related to intellectual property ownership and protection are in writing, either as part of your employment contract or a separate document. Written agreements offer legal evidence to support your claims if needed.
- Record your work: Keep thorough records of the course materials you create, including drafts, creation dates, and relevant communications. This documentation can help in proving your contributions and supporting any copyright claims.
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