A word about the name
Of the blog, that is.
When I bandied around the name as a possible title I had a bunch of people tell me I was using the wrong term. “It’s a ‘Work for Hire’; that’s what freelancers call it.”
But I’m stubborn and I insisted on including the word “made.”
“Work Made for Hire” is a very persnickety legal term. More persnickety than most legal terms, I should say. It means something very specific and because of that, calling it something else changes its meaning ever so slightly.
“Work Made for Hire” is an exception written into the Copyright Act whereby the Author of a work and the Creator of the work are different people. That’s important because the Copyright Act gives protection to authors, not creators.
The creator of a piece that is a WMFH is intentionally making the work for someone else and doesn’t have any of the rights to the work that he or she would have if they were the author.
That means, no reproduction, no display, no creation of new works based on that piece, no selling reproductions of that work; essentially, once the job is done, so is the creator’s relationship to the work.
Now, most people don’t need rights in everything they create, and jobs where you don’t get the copyright usually (usually) pay more than the ones where you do. Please don’t take away an understanding that WMFH jobs are inherently bad (they’re not) or less desirable than non-WMFH jobs (they aren’t).
But they are different. And that difference is important to understand.
As mentioned before in various places, I am not your lawyer and cannot, will not, shall not give legal advice. But luckily, WMFH is a concept well discussed on the internet, and the discussion around it tends to be fairly well educated. I’ve included links to some of the articles I like the most at the bottom of this post.
As always, do not make important business decisions based soley on what you read on the internet. Talk to an attorney if you’re confused, have questions or want to learn more about something that will impact your livelihood. Unless of course you also tend to drill your own filings and you performed your own spleen removal.
- From the U.S. Copyright Office (a surprisingly useful government website), a pamphlet describing WMFH. (Linked to earlier in this post.)
- From New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a short article broadly explaining what works fit into the Work Made For Hire doctrine.
- How one freelance web designer deals with WMFH jobs. (Though, I disagree that the nine categories he refers to are all that stringent; many of them are intentionally vague and flexible. Except the atlas category. That’s pretty hard core.)