Did you commission a vendor to create the material for you?

There may be instances when you will hire an outside vendor or an independent contractor to design a website, develop software, capture images and/or audio, perform, and/or create artwork or written material.  The intellectual property rights in the materials that result from these types of activities will be deemed the property of Yale only if the vendor or contractor explicitly transfers such rights to Yale.  Such transfer may be accomplished with a signed, written instrument for that purpose (an “assignment”), or Yale may claim ownership where the written contract for the independent contractor’s services specifically provides that the work was commissioned as a work-for-hire.

The work-for-hire scenario is, for various reasons, the preferable one but, in order for rights in works to be transferred automatically to Yale as “works-made-for-hire,” such works must fall within one of nine categories of “commissioned work” enumerated under the Copyright Act.

The attached Copyright Assignment and Work for Hire Agreement templates may be used to secure rights from vendors and independent contractors.  If you engage outside vendors or companies with the support of Yale’s Procurement Department, the Procurement Department will likely use Yale’s Standard Professional Services Agreement, which contains appropriate language for ensuring Yale’s ownership interests in creative and/or intellectual materials resulting from the vendor/independent contractor relationship.

Commissioned Works Accepted Under U.S. Law as Works-for-Hire

  • Contributions to a collective work
  • As part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • As a translation
  • As a supplementary work (see below)
  • As a compilation
  • As an instructional text
  • As a test
  • As answer material for a test
  • As an atlas

Examples of Supplementary Works

  • Forewords
  • Afterwords
  • Pictorial illustrations
  • Maps
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Editorial notes
  • Musical arrangements
  • Answer material for tests
  • Bibliographies
  • Appendices
  • Indexes