Knowledge Center

Copyright Holders

In general, only the creator (the "author") of an original work (or someone to whom the copyright has been lawfully transferred) can register a copyright. However, if the author prepared the work within the scope of his or her employment or if the work falls into certain special categories and was specially ordered or commissioned, then the work is considered a "work made for hire." In this case, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author and, therefore, holds the copyright.

If a work has multiple authors, then those authors are co-owners of the copyright, unless there is an agreement between them 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 unless each separate contribution is a "work made for hire."

It should be noted that mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting or any other copy or record does not give the possessor the copyright. A mere transfer of ownership of such items does not automatically transfer rights in the copyright. Minors can claim copyright. However, state laws may regulate business dealings involving these copyrights.


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