What could possibly go wrong if you don’t have a written document between you and a contractor? In this post I will run through what’s the worst that could happen if you don’t have an independent contractor agreement.
So what can go wrong if you don’t have an agreement in place with a contractor?
Without an independent contractor agreement, you won’t own any of the content
The default rule of copyright ownership is that the creator owns what he or she creates, unless there’s an employment relationship going on, then there’s a little bit of a different rule that applies there. So yeah, the default is that the contractor owns it, not you. And that applies, even if they have helped you to create something. So you can go after a copycat if you don’t actually own the thing that they’ve copied. And Yikes, the contractor could come back one day and claim rights in the intellectual property that he or she created. And then what do you do? Yeah, best to get that stuff in writing.
Your confidential information may not remain confidential
There is no default rule to confidentiality, meaning I don’t have an obligation to keep something confidential. (Well, I do because I’m a lawyer.) But contractors don’t have an obligation to keep something confidential just by virtue of working with you. If someone has access to your confidential information without restriction, then yeah, it’s not confidential.
You could be in breach of your own client contract
By that I mean, the contract that you have in place with your clients. Maybe you’re involved in some creative services, whether it’s copywriting or social media marketing, or graphic design, and you promise to give your clients rights to whatever you create. Well, you have to follow that chain of title, that chain of documents.
If you are using a contractor to help you with your workload, you need an independent contractor agreement, for that first reason. That default copyright rule. Because if they haven’t given you rights, you can’t give your client rights.
Imagine this scenario:
- You surf Upwork and find the perfect contractor for a particular job.
- Contractor creates something that you deliver to your client.
- Contractor creates the same exact thing for another company.
- Your client finds out about this other company thinks that they’re infringing because client thinks they own all of that work.
And your client spends money on attorneys fees, trying to shut it down, only to find out that actually, the contractor owns the rights to that stuff, not your client.
How would your reputation be affected, not to mention your Google rating, if that stuff isn’t in place isn’t in writing with your contractor? Make sure you
- Own your stuff
- Your confidential information stays confidential
- And you don’t tick off your client
That gives you a good idea of what can go wrong if you don’t use a written contract with your independent contractors. And if you need an independent contractor agreement, I’ve got one for sale of my shop. I hope that helps and I’ll see you next time!
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