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Thread started 19 Nov 2012 (Monday) 15:06
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Did I accidentally sign away my rights?

 
Heath
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Nov 19, 2012 15:06 |  #1

I might have accidentally signed away my copyright to take any photography and I am curious as to the opinion of this board.

I know that I am probably going to need to contact a lawyer, but I am curious to see what comes up here.

The company that I work for is a technology company in the display, projection, and LED field. I do not believe there is any division that makes cameras, but they make a lot of display devices. This is how it is described in the contract, "including, but not limited to: (a) large screen projection systems, (b) direct-view display monitors, and (c) color-critical imaging systems"

Here is the language in the contract that I signed, which I thought would not include photography.

"The term “Invention” as used throughout this Agreement includes any invention, discovery, improvement, design, machine, device, apparatus, composition, process, plans or programs developed or received during the term of my employment with [company name], whether or not patentable and whether or not made or conceived during my regular working hours."

"The term "Company Invention" as used throughout this Agreement is defined as any Invention which either (a) relates to the present or anticipated business, research, developments, tests, products, work or activities of [company name], or (b) results from any work I may do for [company name], unless such Invention is conceived following the termination of my employment with [company name]."

Did I just sign away my copyright on anything I photograph?


Heath
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Nov 19, 2012 15:18 |  #2

You can check with your attorney, but unless your responsibilities include photography then most likely no. Even then, they would have a hard time grabbing personal after hours work unrelated to your field.




  
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mpix345
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Nov 19, 2012 15:18 |  #3

Heath wrote in post #15264833 (external link)
...

Did I just sign away my copyright on anything I photograph?

I'm not sure why you would think that might be the case.

I'm not a lawyer, but everything I read there talks about things related to what your company does, and wouldn't conceivably cover photography of non-work-related subjects.


  
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stayhumble
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Nov 19, 2012 15:30 |  #4
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i think you are simply over reacting.

maybe im reading from a different perspective being self-employed but it looks like your typical run of the mill job description/requiremen​ts.


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GeoffSobering
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Nov 19, 2012 15:40 |  #5

I'm not a lawyer, etc., etc., etc...

The language looks pretty typical in my experience. I can't find my current employment agreement but I'm pretty sure it's very similar. The only potentially worrisome word I see in the section you posted is "composition". That might conceivably be construed to include visual artworks.


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Luckless
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Nov 19, 2012 15:53 |  #6

When in doubt, ask. More than a few of my employment contracts have had a half dozen or more exceptions and clarifications attached and signed off on.


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markweaver
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Nov 19, 2012 16:12 as a reply to  @ Luckless's post |  #7

I would think that you are fine with photography copyright. Otherwise they could claim rights to anything you did ... if you wrote a novel, painted portraits, built furniture, etc.


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Heath
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Nov 19, 2012 16:14 |  #8

I am going to ask for clarification in writing. I figure if it really isn't included then they won't mind putting it in black and white.

BTW, this only came up because all my cameras are setup to add my copyright when an image is created. The head of the division had an issue that a photo I took of a project had been copyrighted, so I went back to check what my employment contract said. I was curious how far their reach was. And based on this comment, "whether or not made or conceived during my regular working hours" it would appear pretty far.


Heath
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GeoffSobering
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Nov 19, 2012 17:56 |  #9

The text you posted is just the definitions. What limitations are there on "Inventions" and "Company Inventions"?

It's possible that the photo your division head had a problem with would have been considered "work for hire" (i.e. if it was made as part of your employment). That situation (IMHO - again not a lawyer...) has nothing to do with the section of the employment contract you listed, but would be in some verbiage relating to work responsibilities, etc.

FWIW, when I take a photo as part of my job I consider it a "work for hire" with copyright assigned to my employer (most times it has no value to me since it would be covered by various non-disclosure agreements I've signed).

Aside: I doubt my employer would consider it an issue, but my avatar photo was made at work...


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Nov 19, 2012 19:30 as a reply to  @ GeoffSobering's post |  #10

I agree with Geoff.
The text you quoted refers to inventions. Photographs aren't inventions they are creative works so that text wouldn't really apply to photos. However your contract may well include a work for hire clause which would cover creative works such as photographs - and would probably cover a photo taken as part of your work.

However it is very unlikely that your employer really wants to own every photo of your kids, car, local landscape etc. Talk to them and request a written exemption for photos taken outside of work hours/not as part of your actual work.


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Luxornv
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Nov 23, 2012 05:16 |  #11

I'm a design engineer and I had to sign something similar. It only applies to the work you do for the company. Since I only do photography as a hobby, outside of work and on my own time, this does not apply to my pictures. I make a regular salary to design stuff for my company and my job description has nothing to do with photography. Now, if your company employs you as a photographer, then they should at least be paying you a salary for your work. The contract then should only hold to photographs you would take for the company. Anything else on your own time cannot be touched. You're fine with what you signed. You can continue to take photos for fun and make money off of them if you so chose.


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RDKirk
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Nov 25, 2012 19:55 |  #12

results from any work I may do for [company name],

Is the key phrase. It would not include your personal work.

"whether or not made or conceived during my regular working hours"

Simply includes overtime and working from home.




  
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Thomas ­ Campbell
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Nov 25, 2012 20:10 |  #13

Pretty typical wording. Most companies have something like that in place for people that invent something in the course of their employment for the job.

If photography is a part of your job, but you are able to do freelance as well, they will not own the copyright for things taken outside the scope of your employment.


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Nathan
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Nov 27, 2012 12:28 |  #14

As Thomas pointed out, the key issue is whether a photograph is created in the course of your employment with the company. Even if a photograph was considered an "invention" created during or outside of your regular work hours, it is not a "company invention" if is it not created in (a) or (b) as defined. A photograph you take on vacation and not related to company business belongs to you. A photograph you take for business purposes may be considered work-for-hire, under the terms of this contract.


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Heath
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Apr 23, 2013 18:57 |  #15

I am reviving this thread because I am about to open up this conversation with the companies attorney and I have a question.

Ultimately, what I would like to see happen is to be able to use the photos that I take for my current employer to promote myself on my website for architectural photography. I would also like to add something to my contract that would clarify that my photography does not fall under the companies creative IP rights I signed when I was hired.

What I am willing to give up is unlimited licensing for in perpetuity of any images of my companies equipment or work product.

What I am trying to keep is the copyright.

What I am trying to determine is whether this is unreasonable to ask for, and what would be the best method to approach this.

I am a project manger for my company. As a part of my job, I take pictures of our installations progress as well as the final installations to have a record of the project. I am currently taking these photos with my company provided iPhone. I currently have it setup that the photos automatically get uploaded wirelessly to my dropbox account that is shared with other people on the project.

The company does not pay for marketing, so they will use these photos for our marketing material. For example, there is a video taken with an iPhone in the incorrect orientation (rotated to the left, and not corrected) that is being used as marketing material. (For some reason I keep working for companies that do not value visual imagery of their projects as marketing material, which is very ironic if you knew who I worked for.) The company is fairly large, with about 3,900 employees worldwide.

I currently do not use or bring my personal cameras to work.

But, there are a lot of things that I would like to shoot when I have a break, for my personal use. And I would not mind if my company used the images, as long I still had the copyright so I could use the images as well.

I do not plan on asking for additional compensation and I have the opportunities to take the photos without it impacting my other duties.

Does anyone have experience with a work for hire agreement where the photographer maintains the copyright, and the company gets unlimited licensing?


Heath
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Did I accidentally sign away my rights?
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