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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Works Made for Hire

§ 9.05.02
Key point 9-05.02. Works created by employees within the scope of their employment are "works made for hire." The employer is deemed to be the "author" of such a work, and owns the copyright in it unless it executes a signed writing assigning the copyright back to the employee.

1. In General

It is common for church employees to compose music or write books or articles in their church office during office hours. What often is not understood is that such persons do not necessarily own the copyright in the works they create. While the one who creates a work generally is its author and the initial owner of the copyright in the work, section 201(b) of the Copyright Act specifies that "in the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author … and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed ...

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