This week, we’re focusing on ‘works for hire’ and the contracts that control them.
During the process of completing a writing project, you may do extensive research, covering a number of topics related to your client’s business. You may have intentions of rewriting the same material down the road with a different slant. Double check your work for hire contract, though. Depending on the interpretation taken, a clause controlling the ownership of materials related to your project might cover some of that research. Such a clause might look something like this:
WRITER recognizes that all records and copies of records touching CLIENT’s operations, investigations and business made or received by WRITER during the period of this agreement are and will be the exclusive property of CLIENT, and WRITER will keep the same at all times in WRITER’s custody and subject to WRITER’s control, and will surrender the same to CLIENT immediately upon the request of CLIENT, or upon completion to agreed upon services.
This isn’t the sort of thing that you have to worry about going to a court of law, but it can cause arguments with clients. There isn’t a great remedy, either. If a client takes it into their head to prevent you from writing about their company down the line, he or she may wind up being more trouble than they are worth.
Related items, by the way, are very different from proprietary information, which we covered earlier in this series. Your clients have a legal right to protect their proprietary information and their business. They do not have a legal right to control over research you have done through outside channels, unless you grant one to them through a contract.
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