Holograms are made by an individual or corporate creator and therefore are subject to the laws of copyright.
Most countries subscribe to the Berne Conventions on Copyright, so the following key points apply in most countries where a hologram might be originated.
- The copyrights in artwork, logos, models or other designs provided by a commissioning customer are owned by the customer or other legal person to whom they are assigned and the hologram creator must have permission to use them.
- Copyrights in artwork and/or designs made by the holographer or creative team from which the hologram will be made are owned by their creator from the moment they are created.
- Copyright in the hologram is owned by the holographer from the moment the hologram is created; "the holographer" means either the individual artist or the employer of the holographer who makes the hologram. The requirement to register the copyright in the hologram varies from country to country. In many countries it is not strictly necessary to register copyright, but it may often be advisable to do so.
- The rights granted by copyright can be sold or assigned to a customer or any other legal person by agreement, and may be exclusive or non-exclusive assignments. These may include the copyright ownership or assignment of specific rights (such as the exclusive right to use the hologram) or territorial assignment, covering use in specific countries or regions.
It is therefore important to establish in the original contract the terms for the ownership and/or assignment of rights for a hologram produced on commission from a customer. It is an infringement of the copyright in the hologram for it to be copied without the permission of the copyright owner.
Copying includes creating a new hologram which reproduces the specific design of the first hologram.
Creating a new hologram from artwork provided by a customer is thought not to be an infringement of copyright, on the grounds that a new hologram made from the same or similar artwork will inevitably bear the creative input of the second holographer (on the analogy with photography, where two different photographers can take a photo of the same thing without infringing each other's copyright unless one tries to reproduce the specific photographic composition or design of the other). This has not been tested in court.