Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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506.4 (A) Applicant Makes the Determination

506.4 Determining whether the Work is a Work Made for Hire 506.4 (A) Applicant Makes the Determination

The applicant–not the U.S. Copyright Office–must determine whether the work is a work is made for hire, and this determination should be based on the facts that exist at the time when the work was created.

When examining a work made for hire the Office applies U.S. copyright law, even if the work was created in a foreign country, created by a citizen, domiciliary, or habitual resident of a foreign country, or first published in a foreign country. The U.S. Copyright Act is the exclusive source of copyright protection in the United States, and all applicants–both foreign and domestic–must demonstrate that a work satisfies the requirements of U.S. copyright law in order to register a work with the Office.

As a general rule, the registration specialist will accept the applicant’s representation that a work is a work made for hire, unless it is contradicted by information provided elsewhere in the registration materials or in the Office’s records or by information that is known to the specialist. If the claim appears unusual or implausible, the specialist may communicate with the applicant or may refuse registration.

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