Who owns work done on a computer, i.e. spreadsheet programs?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Who owns work done on a computer, i.e. spreadsheet programs?

While helping a startup company, I did work not specifically asked of me on my personal computer. I then transferred it to a work computer. Are these documents and spreadsheets my personal proprietary or the company’s? Being paid for this work is definitely debatable.

Asked on October 25, 2017 under Business Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Whether you were "asked" to do the work or not, was it for the company? If it was, then it belongs to the company: all work done for an employer belongs to the employer. (Or done using their equipment, but you indicate you did the work on your own machine.) If the work was not for and had no relevance to the company, you own it; however, they may still view it as long as it is on their computer or system, since a company can view, access, etc. anything on its devices.

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