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  • Writer's pictureAnant Mishra

Basics Of Copyright Every Employer Should Know

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

While executing their work, employers have the privilege of copyrighting the creations they have made. These copyrights are defined and governed under the copyright act, which prescribes some attainable employer standards. However, these should not be the only measures that the employer should rely on.

Irregular and inadequate regulations of the intellectual properties may lead to misinterpretations and confusion between the employees and the employers or the employers and the other parties involved in the infringement. One of the main issues that emerge is who are the primary owners of the copyright. This issue generally arrives when the creation in question is valuable or substantial. This may include any design, logo, or other imperative product that may significantly impact the organization. Some of the necessary copyrights every employer should know.


Economic rights may include; the right to reproduce, translation and copying, customization editing, public performance, etc. These rights of an author are transferable. If the creations are made under the employment contract, then the author’s economic rights will be automatically transferred to the employer. But the execution of all the products should be under the employer's direct duties in this case.

For instance, an employee is hired by an employer under a contract to create the design for a web portal. After a while, the employer seeks the former for a new job seeing his unparallel talent without prescribing it in the contract clause. Now the employer is at the risk of not making the employee make his career under his direct duties. Since the job is done outside the contract, economic rights should remain with the author.

Although there are some exceptions given by the law for computer programs and other data context to the employment relationship, generally speaking, economic rights are not automatically transferred to the employer in the name of software programs. Here, the employer would have to obtain a license agreement to acquire the employee’s intellectual property unless the parties have decided otherwise. It should be borne in mind that if the employer receives a license to use the creation to his interests, then the employee has to be given a certain amount of remuneration.


The moral rights of the author ensure control over his work. Thus, among all the other things, moral rights give you the creator the authority to come out in public as the owner of the property. The author's moral rights are intermittent to the author's person. Thus, making them non-salable and non-transferrable. Unlike an author’s economic rights, moral rights are not transferred to the employer under his duties contract.

A common mistake that often occurs during the formation of the employment contracts is that the parties negate the employee’s rights that may have arrived during his performance. The employer often believes that like economic rights, moral rights belong to him. A relevant position may also have to be included in the employment contract. Thus, in the case of moral rights, if the employer tries to use the employee’s worked to his interests, it can come under the law of infringement. In which case, the employer is liable to be held under the infringement act.

Recommendation to the employer-:

Be careful while regulating the employee's duties and role in writing, specifically if the creation can be of utmost value to the employer. Suppose the responsibilities in the contract are defined too narrowly or not appropriately regulated in the initial documents. In that case, any work created which may have been made under the employer's vision will not qualify as "work created under direct duties.” This means certain that the employee's economic rights of the author will not be automatically transferred to the employer, albeit with the employee's consent.

Regarding the author’s moral rights, if the employer wants his right to the latter's creation, he might want to obtain an exclusive license to use all the works to his interests from the author. Obtaining consent would conclude that the employee would have no moral/economic/ rights to his creations if the employer or any third party has acquired the license.

In the case of moral rights, the employee is entitled to his share of remuneration other than the prescribed fee after the employer or any third party has acquired the license.

Information technologies and software companies would have to be more careful when it comes to patents or copyrights. Besides the contract, the companies should make a separate document where the employee's duties are appropriately regulated to avoid issues regarding the employee’s intellectual rights.

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