One of the most frequent questions we’re asked by individuals or organisations who create or devise work through a collaborative process is, who owns the rights?

The simple legal answer is the author. However, if an end work is the result of development and contributed to by multiple people, who claims author status and bags the rights once the devising is over?

If you or your organisation are creating work in this way it’s essential you decide, communicate clearly and put in writing who owns the rights once the development is done. Options include asking those who contribute to ‘assign’ (give you / your company) the rights to anything they contribute, agree joint author status or enter into a merged copyright agreement.

There is no one size fits all solution. So discuss and agree rights well in advance of starting the process of development. Most importantly create a letter of agreement or contract, and get it signed by all collaborators. If possible get this checked by a lawyer.

As the creative industries moves further into collaborative working models, are you sure you or your company are actually legally ‘the author’ of projects you plan to take forward to fruition from collaborative development?