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Identifying Ownership

The author of an original work is the copyright owner, except in the case of a “work for hire.” A work for hire can arise in two situations: (1) when an employee creates a work within the scope of his or her employment; (2) when two parties enter a written agreement designating the work as a work for hire and the work falls within certain categories designated by copyright law. If a work qualifies as a work for hire, the employer owns the copyright and enjoys the same rights of copyright ownership as if the employer had created the work itself. If a work does not qualify as a work for hire, then the employee who authored the work retains copyright ownership and transfer of the copyright can only be accomplished through a written assignment of copyright.

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