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Copyrights FAQs

Who can obtain a copyright?

Copyright protection exists from the time the work is created in fixed form and immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer, not the employee, is considered to be the author.

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.

Two general principles:
  1. Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that a mere transfer of ownership in a copy does not transfer the copyright
  2. Minors may claim copyright, but state laws can regulate the business dealings of copyrights owned by minors