Who Owns What?

Copyright and ownership of particular intellectual property is confusing. Who owns the copyright? The basic rules imply:

  • The author is usually the owner.
  • Except when the work-for-hire rules apply: The author's employer owns work(s)
  • created by an employee or contractor within the scope of employment, or
  • that fall within one or more of the nine statutory categories, where the agreement commissioning the work is documented in writing and signed by the author before work begins.
  • The nine statutory categories include: contribution to a collective work; part of a movie or other audiovisual work; a translation; a supplementary work; a compilation; an instructional text; a test; answer material for a test; or an atlas.If a work does not fit within the statutory definition of a work-for-hire, the employer may still own it if it is created pursuant to a contract with an assignment of copyright.An author-owner is free to assign copyright to anyone, so a written contract can change these basic rules.Many publishers require assignment of copyright as a condition of publication.

For more details on who owns what, go to “Who Owns Whatâ€.

Submitted by:Barbara Bray