I worked as Asst. Production Manager for a chain of local weekly newspapers for 11 years. In addition to my duties, I also created over 2000 editorial cartoons. This was done on my own and while I loved doing them, it was not part of my job description and I was never paid for them. Our company was bought by another company and they let me and most of my department go after three months. They now own all the newspapers and my cartoons are featured on those paper's sites. Do you think they owe anything to use these?
As you were employed by the newspaper I would expect that the creation of editorial cartoons was performed as part of your job. Whether or not it was listed in your job description and whether or not you were separately paid for them, it is likely that a court would find that this was part of what was expected of you in performance of your duties. Therefore, the newspaper, and now the new owners, would own the copyrights in these works. You might consider simply asking them for recognition or consideration without referring to my opinion, but if you want to do so I would suggest that you talk to local IP counsel and have such counsel handle the discussions for you.
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Sad state iof affairs in the newspaper business these days. You may have given an implied license to the copyrights to the chain of papers, which transferred to the new owners. =But it is so sad and unequitable a jury would likely sympathize with you. CT may also have some state laws which might offer additional recourse for you. Its worth talking with an attorney, most offer a free initial consultation, why not give it a try. (I would, you might get a settlement or royalties, or something?) At a minimum, law schools and/or charitable organizations offer free legal aid. I wish you well.
Peace be with you, and may love guide you.
I agree with Attorney David. As a long time employee supplying these cartoons became part of your job description and they belong to your employer, whether drawing cartoons was part of your original duties or not. These cartoons belonged to your previous employer as "works for hire" according to the Copyright Act as well as under state agency law.
Presumably you signed them, so you'll continue to get credit for them if the new owners re-purpose them.
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