Can buyers of services resell the work


Can buyers of services resell the work that a service provider does for them (for instance, resell as stock)? Can a service provider resell work they do for buyers?

On Microlancer Service Providers sell their services – that is their time, creativity and other skills – to produce a product for someone else, the buyer. Sometimes the end result will belong entirely to the buyer – at other times part of the end result might still be owned by the service provider but licensed to the buyer for their own use. We’ve set out some examples below.

In many cases the end product will be something that uses and includes components where the intellectual property (IP) belongs to the buyer (for example, a service provider could be colorizing a black and white photo which belongs to the buyer). The buyer might by buying a service provider’s service specifically because they do want to sell that photo as stock. The buyer will have the right to sell their photo despite the fact that a service provider has worked on it for them. They own the IP in that content.

Sometimes the end product will be created solely for the buyer based on the buyer’s content, for example a caricature sketch drawn by the service provider based on a photo. This is also a case where the buyer will own the IP in the final outcome, the sketch, because the service provider is creating a bespoke product for the buyer and assigns all the intellectual property in what they create to the buyer under the terms on the site.

In each of the examples above, a service provider would not be able to sell a work that they had created as part of their delivery of services if any of it contains IP that belongs to another or content that was made specifically for a buyer (as a bespoke item).

The service provider is paid to do the job. The service provider does not retain intellectual property in new work that it does for the buyer. The buyer is paying for a completed work and then they can do what they like with it. It is a bit like having a painting commissioned or carving a wooden chair. The person who buys it owns it and can use it how they want. So service providers will be pricing their work to meet their view of its value – not just the effort but their creative skills.

If a service provider uses materials that it has created, for instance they use a template as the basis or a layer style they have created to speed up work when processing photos, then the service provider will continue to retain the rights to that, and can sell it wherever they like, as they own the intellectual property to that pre-existing intellectual property.


My name is Serge and I’m a creative geek. I truly love web and I enjoy using its great potential.

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