Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
Chapter 400
Chapter 500
Chapter 600
Chapter 700
Chapter 800
Chapter 900
Chapter 1000
Chapter 1100
Chapter 1200
Chapter 1300
Chapter 1400
Chapter 1500
Chapter 1600
Chapter 1700
Chapter 1800
Chapter 1900
Chapter 2000
Chapter 2100
Chapter 2200
Chapter 2300
Chapter 2400

2309.1 What Is a Transfer of Ownership?

2309.1 What Is a Transfer of Ownership?

Section 205 (A) of the Copyright Act states that “[a]ny transfer of copyright ownership . . . may be recorded in the Copyright Office if the document filed for recordation bears the actual signature of the person who executed it, or if it is accompanied by a sworn or official certification that it is a true copy of the original, signed document.”

Section 101 of the Copyright Act states that a “transfer of copyright ownership” is “an assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation, or hypothecation of a copyright or of any of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect . . .” It also states that a nonexclusive license is not a transfer of copyright ownership.

The copyright in a work of authorship initially belongs to the author or co-authors of that work. Section 201 (D) (1) of the Copyright Act states that “[t]he ownership of a copyright may be transferred in whole or in part by any means of conveyance or by operation of law, and may be bequeathed by will or pass as personal property by the applicable laws of intestate succession.”

As a general rule, a transfer of copyright ownership must be made in writing and it must

be signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s duly authorized agent. 17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 201 (D), 204 (A).

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