At my current job, I was hired to be a call center rep and was moved to full-time software development under the same title/pay (I've been programming 8 hours/day for 5 months here). There are no intellectual property rights clauses in any of the paperwork I signed, nothing mentioning ownership of software for the company.

The closest thing I could find was the confidentiality agreement which states:

No materials related to [Company Name] or its clients shall be removed from the premises or duplicated in any manner without direction/authorization of senior leadership.

Do I retain ownership/copyright of the software I write here?


I'm reading into Work for Hire and am not quite sure how/when that applies. Does this apply if you have worked on software at any time (personal or work time) that is applied at work? And does it apply if it is not within the scope of my position?

In my case I have spent both personal and work time creating what I use. The scope of my position is to be a callcenter rep, however, I am given full leeway to develop, just not the position or pay.

  • What's your jurisdiction? It's highly unlikely that you retain ownership of the IP as it was created as a work for hire. You'd probably need to be an independent contractor or doing business as some legal entity and stipulate that you retain ownership to actually retain it. IANAL.
    – Patrick87
    Jan 30, 2016 at 23:09
  • Ah, that's good to know. I'm in Oregon. Jan 30, 2016 at 23:13
  • 1
    Being in the USA, you can be 100% sure that anything written by you as an employee has your employer as the owner of the copyright, without any copyright transfer needed. In some countries you have the irrevocable right to claim that you wrote the software, which is (a) true and (b) has no financial value.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 31, 2016 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


As an employee you are performing "work for hire". All IP produced by work for hire belongs to the hirer i.e. your employer owns it, you don't.

Some jurisdictions recognise moral copyright which generally grants the individual creator rights to attribution and for their work to not be used in a way which could damage their reputation or the artistic merit in the work.


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