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Transfer of Copyright Ownership

Copyright in a creative work initially vests in the author or authors of the work.  The owner of copyright in a creative work may obtain registration of the copyright claim by delivering to the Copyright Office the copies of the work together with the application and specified fee.  In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them.

The ownership of a copyright may be transferred in whole or in part by any means of conveyance or by operation of law including issue of license.  License may be issued to use full or a part of the copyrighted work.  The ownership may be bequeathed by will or pass as personal property by the applicable laws of intestate succession.  Transfer of ownership of copyright is generally called as copyright assignment. 

A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance or a note of the transfer is in writing and signed by the owner of the copyright or such owner’s duly authorized agent.  A document that transfers copyright ownership may be recorded in the Copyright Office.


U.S. copyright office

Inside Transfer of Copyright Ownership