Who legally owns the work I create when I’m volunteering?

You may sometimes need to get creative to help your club. For example, you might take photos for the website, write a new training toolkit, make a video for the club, or design a new logo.

If you make something like this for your sports club, it’s helpful to know who legally owns it – you or the club. In contractual language, this is known as “intellectual property” or simply “IP”.

Whose intellectual property?

As a general rule, if you haven’t been paid for it – and as long as your volunteer agreement does not say otherwise – you own the intellectual property for any work you create. 

That said, many volunteer agreements include an “assignment of intellectual property rights” or similar clause. It’s a good idea to read through your agreement, club handbook and any other documents you signed when you became a volunteer. If you find a clause like this – typically in any sections about copyright – they will pass the legal ownership of your work to the club.

Volunteering vs employment

The law on intellectual property is very different for volunteers and employees. If you take on a paid role with your sports club and sign a contract of employment, any work you do will automatically become their intellectual property.

For help on any intellectual property issues, seek professional legal advice.

See the following links for more information:

Gov.uk - What qualifies as intellectual property