Area of Law: Intellectual Property
Answer # 316
Who owns the Copyright?Region: Ontario Answer # 316
In most cases the person who created the work will own the copyright in the work. However, if an employee creates the work for an employer, then, unless they have an agreement that says otherwise, the employer will be the owner of the copyright. This means that typically freelance contract workers own the copyright in the works they produce for someone else, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
When a copyright owner dies, the copyright is treated like other property, and becomes part of his or her estate and is inherited by the creator’s heirs. The heirs will acquire the exclusive rights in the work, which means that they can authorize the reproduction, publication, or performance of the work.
Special ownership rules apply if you assign or license your copyright to someone else.
For more information, refer to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
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