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copyright of training materials


I've been asked to put together and deliver specialised training courses for a company to offer to the public as paying workshops. These would be branded under their name. What is the normal procedure as regards copyright - can I keep it? Thank you

6 Responses

  1. Copyright
    First place to check: the agreement you signed with the company/ client. It may state who owns copyright. If it’s not clear, I would get it cleared/ agreed before you deliver the training under their name so you ‘don’t create facts’ which then point to one decision or other (de facto copyright to them or you). My law degree is from The Netherlands, so couldn’t vouch for similarity with the UK. I would think though that if you’ve developed something under their pay then copyright is normally theirs; if you’ve developed something and then sell it to them (e.g. a customised version), then they get right to use, but not full copyright. I guess this could/ should be reflected in the price of your work: if you can reuse info, they could offer less money as you can gain further money from others on this, while if you couldn’t reuse it, then you’d want more money to part with your work…

    That’s my 2p anyways.

    In peace.

  2. Copyright or IPR

    Be aware that copyright and intellectual property right are different. Putting the copyright sign on a document declares that that particular piece of work should not be copied but it does not determine who owns the work.

    Before developing the piece of work declare/identify/negotiate who owns it (you as the creator do by default). If you don’t want anyone else to be able to use the work (course or programme) as you have assembled it then have this in the contract and put your copyright on the documents.

    As to actually protecting and not letting someone else use it; well that is a different matter. Many trainers use ideas they have gained from others. You can’t protect an idea regardless of whether it is your original idea; all you can protect is the tangible display of the idea.

    Hope this helps; give TrainerBase as call (01239 711544) if you would like further thoughts.


  3. Intellectual property
    You can get a lot of free information and advice on intellectual property here –

    It’s aimed at creative industries – but it works for everyone.

    As already mentioned – it also depends on the agreement you already have with the company.

    Hope that’s some help.


  4. Work for Hire
    Hi Beverley.

    Having been involved in a number of cases of IP and copyright being transferred from independent consultants to training providers, I hope these thoughts help.

    As others have said, if you are commissioned to write and deliver a piece of “work” for a company, then it’s usual for the copyright to be held by the commissioning company, meaning that whatever you prepared, in the format you prepared it, would remain for them to do as they see fit afterwards, especially if this company has its own brand in the marketplace.

    But you did mention that is was “specialised training”. In these instances, if your particular experience in this area is of importance too to the commissioning company – and if they couldn’t easily offer this training without someone of your background – then there might be grounds to negotiate that you retain the copyright, but grant them a licence to use the material, were you to not go on to deliver further sessions.

    You might also wish to agree that you wouldn’t supply exactly the same content in exactly the same format to another (competing) training provider or do so yourself. In fact, your commissioning company might insist upon this – if they do, have them prepare a list of who they believe their competitors to be.

    Fee-wise, if you are handing over the full copyright, then you could charge more than if you are allowed to retain some or all of the rights.


  5. Be Open and Fair

    I have been commissioned to right numerous workshops that have then been marketed as open programmes by another company. They paid for my time to write the courses, and to me, that means that they own them.

    However, owning ideas is another thing. I don’t see any problem with using the ideas to create other similar pieces of work, as long as they are sufficiently different. The example I always use is giving and recieving feedback – there are clear guidelines about how to do this well. You can’t create a whole new set of principles everytime someone wants a section on this in their workshops. However, the models may be tweaked, the examples changed and context in which the information given differed.

    I’ve been writing courses for 15 years, and have never written two the same. Be open with your client. Assure them that you will not re-badge their materials for your own use, but as you are a specialist, you should retain the right to share your specialist knowledge with others who are prepared to pay for it. Isn’t that what other professionals do?

    Sheridan Webb

  6. Thanks everyone
    Thanks for all these useful comments. I haven’t yet got a contract finalised, so these points will be a big help in deciding how to phrase it.

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