1003.1 Distinguishing Between Individual Authors, Joint Authors, and Works Made for Hire
Websites often contain multiple types of copyrightable content, including literary works, visual art works, and performing arts works. The authors of the content may include visual artists, web designers, bloggers, coders, musicians, singer songwriters, among others. These authors may be individual contributors to the website, multiple authors who contributed to a group project, or employees of a company.
When an individual creates a work of authorship, generally he or she is considered the author of that work. If two or more individuals create a work, they are considered joint authors and the work is considered a joint work. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “joint work”). When an individual creates a work during the course of his or her employment, that individual is not considered the author; the employer is considered the author and the work is considered a work made for hire. See id. (definition of “work made for hire”).
For a definition and detailed discussion of joint works and works made for hire, see Chapter 500, Sections 505 and 506.