What Are the Benefits of a Work for Hire Agreement for Graphic Design Jobs?

Standardized Legal Documents What Are the Benefits of a Work for Hire Agreement for Graphic Design Jobs?

Get the Scoop on the Work for Hire Agreement for Graphic Design Creatives

Hiring an independent contractor or being hired as one calls for a legal document that can define the relationship and necessary rules and requirements. For everything to run smoothly, the smartest option is making a work for hire agreement. When your work involves intellectual property, the terms of such a relationship can be slightly more difficult to define.

This article will explain what these contracts are all about and what to expect from your work for hire agreement for graphic design artists!


What Is a Work for Hire Agreement?

A work for hire agreement is a legally binding contract between a client and independent contractor that defines the terms of the professional relationship between the two and the use of the contractor’s intellectual property. By signing this contract, the contractor agrees to release the rights to their intellectual property in favor of the client.

The U.S. Copyright Law recognizes work for hire as:

  • Work prepared by an employee within their scope of employment—Includes any kind of work that falls under what the employee’s hired to do
  • Work created by an independent contractor—Refers to the type of work that the contractor is specifically hired to do, in which case the contractor has to create something new

A work made for hire is work that can be classified in one of the following nine categories:

  1. Test
  2. Atlas
  3. Translation
  4. Answer material for a test
  5. A part of the motion picture or other audiovisual work
  6. Instructional text—any text that could be in a textbook
  7. Supplementary work—index, appendix, foreword, afterword, bibliography, and editorial notes
  8. Contribution to a collective work—articles for a magazine, anthology, or encyclopedia
  9. Compilation—anything that can qualify as a collective work, such as a database or anthology

Why Do Graphic Designers Need To Sign Work for Hire Agreements?

Creative individuals—including graphic designers—typically prefer the type of work that allows flexibility, which full-time employment doesn’t. Because of that, many graphic designers rather opt for work-for-hire arrangements.

If you are a graphic designer and work as a full-time employee, the chances are that you don’t own the rights to the work you’ve created, but for the work for hire contractors, there might be a chance.

If you want to use your creative work without being sued, you should sign a work for hire agreement. That doesn’t mean you should gloss over the contract’s provisions—you should read all the clauses thoroughly and negotiate the terms how you see fit.

What Should a Work for Hire Agreement Include?

Work for hire agreements are especially difficult to write by yourself. There are no reliable templates that you can follow because every situation is different. You and your client might need additional provisions, or your state might require a specific language for exceptions to ownership.

In general, work for hire agreements should cover the following:

Elements of a Work for Hire Agreement Explanation
Information about the parties At the beginning of the contract, you should state the names, addresses, and contact information of the client (business) and contractor. You should also specify the status of the contractor (employee or independent contractor)
Copyright ownership Negotiate with the other party to determine who has the rights to the intellectual property that will be created
Scope of the project Explain the type of work the contractor is going to create. Define the format, conditions, and requirements
Due date of the project You have to determine the exact date the project should be finished. If you mutually agree, there can be separate due dates for different phases in case the project is too long
Confidentiality terms This provision should define what the contractor is or isn’t allowed to discuss outside of work
Arbitration terms Determine what happens in case the client or contractor fails to fulfill their responsibilities and create an additional agreement for settling such disputes by arbitration
Termination terms It should be clearly stated that this is not an employment agreement and that the parties can terminate it at any time

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