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The specifics of this particular situation can only thoroughly be addressed by an intellectual property attorney. However, to clarify a few points, a work, such as an original software program, is automatically copyrighted, and that copyright belongs to the creator of the work, unless they transfer ownership of their rights to the work to another individual or entity. While copyright is an inherent part of the work, that does not mean it is automatically registered with the Copyright Office. That requires an application with the Copyright Office and their approval of the application.
Unless copyright ownership has been transferred to them, someone who did not create a copyrightable work cannot claim ownership of the work, or register as the owner of that copyright, with the Copyright Office.