Wednesday, August 13, 2008

U.S. Copyright Office Basics: "Who Can Claim Copyright?"

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship 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 and not the employee is considered to be the author. Section 101 of the copyright law defines a “work made for hire” as:

1. work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment;


2. work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:

  • a contribution to a collective work

  • a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work

  • a translation

  • a supplementary work

  • a compilation

  • an instructional text

  • a test

  • answer material for a test

  • an atlas
if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.:
The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, 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

  • Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

  • Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.
Copyright and National Origin of the Work

Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author.

Published works are eligible for copyright protection in the United States if any one of the following conditions is met:

  • On the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party,* or is a stateless person wherever that person may be domiciled; or

  • * A treaty party is a country or intergovernmental organization other than the United States that is a party to an international agreement.

  • The work is first published in the United States or in a foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party. For purposes of this condition, a work that is published in the United States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may be; or

  • The work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty party; or

  • The work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is located in the United States or a treaty party; or

  • The work is first published by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or

  • The work is a foreign work that was in the public domain in the United States prior to 1996 and its copyright was restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Request Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA-GATT), for further information.

  • The work comes within the scope of a Presidential proclamation.


What Is Copyright?

Who Can Claim Copyright?

-----Copyright and National Origin of the Work

What Works Are Protected?

What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

How to Secure Copyright


Notice of Copyright

-----Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies

-----Form of Notice for Phonorecords of Sound Recordings

-----Position of Notice

-----Publications Incorporating U.S. Government Works

-----Unpublished Works

-----Omission of Notice and Errors in Notice

How Long Copyright Protection Endures

Transfer of Copyright

-----Termination of Transfers

International Copyright Protection

Copyright Registration

Registration Procedures

-----Original Registration


-----Special Deposit Requirements

-----Unpublished Collections

Effective Date of Registration

Corrections and Amplifications of Existing Registrations

Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States

Use of Mandatory Deposit to Satisfy Registration Requirements

Who May File an Application Form?

Application Forms

-----Fill-in Forms Available


Search of Copyright Office Records

For Further Information


Source: U.S. Copyright Office
Revised July 2006

No comments: