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Common Misconceptions about the “Work for Hire” Doctrine

Common Misconceptions about the “Work for Hire” Doctrine

December 8, 2021 at 2:48 PM - copyrights,

In the copyright world, the general rule is that the creator of a work owns the copyright in that work. However, this general rule does not apply to all copyrightable works, including so-called “works for hire.” The copyright “work for hire” doctrine provides that the employer automatically owns the copyright in a work for hire created by its employee within the scope of the employee’s employment, absent a written agreement to the contrary. However, there are many misconceptions regarding “works for hire” under U.S. copyright law. First and foremost, the “work for hire” doctrine applies only to a very narrow category of works, as defined in Section 101 of the U.S. Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code). Moreover, it only applies to copyrightable works, and does not extend to works protected by trade secrets, patents, or trademarks.

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