Work For Hire

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Work For Hire Contract Basics and Services

A work for hire contract is used in almost all music recording projects to ensure that a label (or a DIY artist) owns everything created as a result of the services of others involved in the recording process such as session musicians, producers, engineers, mixers, and masterers. For a session player, their musician work for hire agreement is generally a simple one page contract. In contrast, a producer agreement is generally longer to cover such things as royalties, but will still include a work for hire music contract clause. Another example of a work for hire clause is in a certificate of authorship, which is a standard one page document for music, TV, and film projects to guarantee that the party hiring the services of another owns all the results of their services.

Morris Music Law specializes in drafting and negotiating custom clauses as well as all other necessary clauses in a work for hire agreement. Our Los Angeles music lawyers are extremely detailed oriented to protect our clients and ensure that their work for hire contracts fit the particular needs of their project. Being in Los Angeles, near Hollywood studios and numerous recording studios from Santa Monica to Studio City, enables our music lawyers to work directly with the people and businesses in the entertainment industry that need work for hire contracts on a regular basis.

Although a WFH is a standard contract in the entertainment industry, our attorneys work closely with our clients to ensure that they not only understand what they are signing, but also to craft the contract to fit the particular needs of the client. Recently, Morris Music Law has drafted a template musician for hire contract for a label to use with all studio session players. We have also recently incorporated WFH clauses into a programmer agreement for a music website. Another example of recent work includes drafting a custom composer agreement for a television show production company that incorporated work for hire language in addition to provisions for publishing and soundtrack royalties.

When working with our clients to help them understand the legal and practical implications of a WFH clause, our attorneys explain both the legal and practical implications. For example, most music WFH clauses include an assignment of copyright clause should the work ever be deemed not to be a work made for hire. The reason for the assignment language comes from the history of the Copyright Act and Supreme Court decisions. Practical implications of a work being a work made for hire as opposed to a transfer of copyright is very important because an author can reclaim their copyright for a transfer but not for a work made for hire.

Another clause that is often included in work for hire contracts is a waiver of moral rights. The reason this clause is usually included is because countries outside of the United States have moral rights for authors of music. In the US, moral rights do not exist for music or recording copyrights. Just as with the other clauses in a WFH, our music attorneys help explain the implications of a waiver of moral right and why such clause may or may not be needed in the contract.

Even though work for hire agreements are standard, it is important to consult with an attorney who specializes in copyright law to help you understand, draft, and/or negotiate language in the contract that protects your rights both now and in the future. The attorneys at Morris Music Law pride ourselves on staying up to date on all recent developments in copyright law and the music industry to help ensure that our clients always receive current legal advice in connection with their work for hire contracts.