This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.
Question: If a company has a blog page on its website, does the company own copyright of what is posted by guest bloggers, or does there need to be some sort of agreement between guest bloggers and the hosting site? In other words, the company owns the content on its site, but do guest blogs become the property of the company website, or does the guest blogger hold all rights to what they wrote (absent a formal agreement)?
Answer: The author of the individual blog post owns the copyright in his or her original posting. The only exception is if the blogger is a company employee and company policy is that it owns all of the rights to works produced by the employee in the course of his or her employment. Because you used the term “guest blogger” my assumption is that the blogger is not an employee of your company.
If your company wants to own the copyright in the blog content created by the guest blogger, then a written transfer of copyright from the blogger to the company is required. Many bloggers would not agree to this, but the company still may want to ask. If the blogger refuses, them the company will have the choice of letting the blogger go ahead and retain the copyright, or not permitting the blogger to write for the company blog.
Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.