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Advice - General / Rights and why they are important / Shift payments and copyright

Who owns the work of someone paid by the day? The Copyright Act is clear that the exclusion of employees from copyright applies to "work done in the course of their employment" - which would seem to mean an actual job, with a right to redundancy pay and everything else that goes with it.

It is clearly accepted that photographers paid by the day own their pictures.

Clients would probably argue that custom and practice grants them a wide licence to use work done by, for example, someone paid to do a day writing news shorts.

We know of no directly relevant case law. The much-quoted case Beloff -v- Pressdram does not concern normal authorial copyright: the judgment was that the columnist Nora Beloff could not sue Pressdram Ltd (owners of Private Eye) for printing a memo she wrote, because it belonged to the paper in whose office she wrote it, the Observer.

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Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.