Works For Hire
If someone is an employee, and what they create is done as a part of their employment, then their employer, not the employee, owns all the rights. That is a consequence of the “works made for hire” doctrine in copyright law.
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Copyrights: Copyrights protect original works of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression. A tangible form does not need to be directly perceptible, if it can be communicated with the aid of a machine or device.
Copyrightable works: Copyrightable works include literary works, musical works, including any accompanying words, dramatic works, including any accompanying music, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.
Non-copyrightable works: Works that are not in a fixed tangible medium (non-recorded, non-notated or non-written), mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents, phrases, names, slogans, ideas, methods, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices.
Length of Protection: A work created on or after January 1,1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation. The length of protection for this work is the author’s life plus an additional seventy (70) years after the author’s death. In the case of a joint work, the term lasts for seventy (70) years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be ninety five (95) years from publication or hundred and twenty (120) years from creation, whichever is shorter.
Federal Registration of Copyrights: Federal registration of the author’s work provides constructive notice of its copyright. If registration is done before or within five (5) years of publication, it establishes prima facie evidence in court of the copyright’s validity and the facts stated in the certificate. If registration is made within three (3) months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. The basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work, at the discretion of the court. For willful infringement, the author may be entitled to damages up to $150,000 per work.
Worldwide Protection: The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, copyrights can be honored outside of the United States in many countries around the world.