Q: Question about what qualifies as "Work for Hire" with regard to copyright law
I'm a real estate photographer and the normal agreement I have with my clients is to grant them license to use the photos for purposes of marketing the property but I still own the copyright to all my photos. A client just contacted me to say that their company is now requiring photographers they hire to sign an agreement which among other things states that I cannot use the photos without permission from the property owner (not the real estate agent or broker) and that I give over the copyright to the company as my work would be considered Work for Hire. I'm not an employee but an independent contractor and from what I've been reading, I don't see that this kind of work fits the criteria for Work for Hire, but I may not be interpreting it all correctly. Besides wanting to use the photos for my own marketing purposes, I don't really care that much about what someone else does with my real estate listing photos, but completely giving up my copyright doesn't sit well with me.
A photo can be a "work for hire" if you agree in writing that it is, even if you are an independent contractor not an employee.
If you have any bargaining power, you could add a provision that you have permission to use the photos as examples in marketing your photographic services; that provision could go farther and require that the copyright ownership be acknowledged in a notice superimposed or in adjacent text (Copyr. 2022 RealEstateCo, used with permission).
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