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Charities - Copyright etc.

Charities - Copyright etc.


If a volunteer produces any materials in which any intellectual property rights (“IPRs”) arise, including, in particular, copyright, those IPRs will belong to the individual even though they produce it during the course of and for the purpose of their volunteering work.

Assignment of IPRs by volunteer to the charity - If the charity wishes to ensure that the IPRs in that work will instead belong to the charity, it will have to arrange for the volunteer to assign the IPRs to the charity. An assignment is a fairly short legal document which is signed by both parties. This should preferably be done before the volunteer produces any such materials. Where it is anticipated at the outset that the volunteer will or is likely to produce materials in which the charity wishes to own the IPRs, the assignment should take place when the volunteer is first engaged as a volunteer.

Assignment of IPRs by volunteer to the charity and licence to the volunteer - In some cases the charity might be content to own the IPRs and to allow the volunteer to make use of it for certain purposes. If so, the charity should produce a document that it and the volunteer then sign which contains both an assignment of IPRs to the charity by the volunteer, and a non-exclusive licence of the IPRs by the charity to the volunteer. The licence wording should set out in precise terms the purpose and scope of the licence. This would then enable the volunteer to use the material under the licence, and the charity to use or exploit it in any way that it sees fit.

Licence of IPRs to the charity - In contrast to this arrangement, where the charity is content for the volunteer to retain ownership of the IPRs provided that the charity has the right to use the materials for its own purposes, there will be no need for an assignment to the charity. However, the volunteer and the charity will need to arrange for it and the volunteer to sign a licence whereby the volunteer licences the IPRs to the charity. Again, the licence wording should set out in precise terms the purpose and scope of the licence to ensure that the charity has the necessary scope and types of licence rights to use the materials in any way that it wishes. This might include not only rights to use the materials for the charity’s own purposes but also rights to exploit it for the financial benefit of the charity and/or the right to sublicence it to one or more third parties without accounting to the volunteer for any of the royalties that the charity might receive under such sublicences. This arrangement would allow the volunteer to use or exploit the materials in any way they wish. If the charity wishes to restrict the volunteer’s freedom to use or exploit the IPRs in any way, such restrictions would need to be built into the terms of the licence, for example, if the charity wishes the licence granted to it by the volunteer to be an exclusive one, or if the charity wishes to prevent the volunteer from receiving any commercial gain from use of the IPRs.

See our template Copyright Assignment and our template Copyright Licence under "Related Documents" below.

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