Re: Web site vs. Web designer

From: Mark Lemley <MLEMLEY[_at_]>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 12:52:41 -0500

>>> Question: Due to the fact that no work-for-hire agreement was signed
>>> *before* the work was completed, is it possible for the designer to
>>> grant and the Web site owner to acquire full copyright ownership of
>>> the work completed?
> And John Noble wrote:
>> Sure, by assignment of the copyright. "Designer hereby assigns to Webster
>> all right, title and interest, including but not limited to copyright, in
>> the following described work: ....
> Michael Levinthal:
> However, assignment of copyright is not ultimately as beneficial to
> web site owner, in that a Work For Hire is owned by the owner for the
> life of the copyright, while a grant from the author may, in some
> circumstances, be terminated in thirty-five to forty years. Of course,
> in Web years, that's a couple of millenia, but I always ask my clients
> to think of a movie made in 1960 that they might want to have a piece
> of today . . .

What *is* a Web page for copyright purposes anyway? I take it that if it is a computer program or a basic literary work, a "work for hire agreement" will be ineffective in any event under 17 U.S.C. sec. 101(2). On the other hand, maybe the commissioning party could characterize it as an "other audiovisual work", "a compilation," or an "instructional text," in which case work for hire agreements could be effective.

Mark Lemley
Assistant Professor, University of Texas School of Law Of Counsel, Fish & Richardson, P.C.
mlemley[_at_] Received on Thu Sep 12 1996 - 19:36:20 GMT

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