Agreement between employee and employer

Good to know

Special provisions can be included in the employment contract for employees who work in a field in which they often produce creative works (e.g. media, legal sector, art industry). Unfortunately, such contracts are not always clear or might not include any written provisions about whether the copyrights should be assigned and/or to what extent they should be assigned. For example, employees can also grant their employers only a licence or restricted rights.

If the employment contract contains unclear provisions or no provisions at all, the matter is decided by the purpose of the employment contract. The employment contract tacitly includes the assignment of the copyrights to the employer if the employee’s remit pursuant to the employment contract is specifically to create one or more works for the employer. In this case, the rights that are needed to achieve the contract’s purpose are assigned.

The Copyright Act only makes explicit provision for the assignment of the rights to a work to the employer in a single case, i.e. in the event that employees create a computer program under an employment contract in the course of their work or fulfilling contractual obligations (Art. 17 CopA).