Copyright Compendium

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614.2 (B) (2) Was the Work Specially Ordered or Commissioned as a Work Made for Hire?

 

614.2 (B) (2) Was the Work Specially Ordered or Commissioned as a Work Made for Hire?

 

If the applicant checks the work made for hire box or affirmatively states that the work was specially ordered or commissioned, the registration specialist will accept that assertion, unless there is evidence to the contrary in the registration materials.

 

Ordinarily, the specialist will not ask the applicant to verify that there is a signed written agreement between the parties designating the work as a work made for hire or to submit a copy of that agreement. However, the application may be questioned if the work does not appear to fall within one or more of the nine categories of works listed in the statutory definition of works made for hire.

 

Examples:

 

• An application for a travel guide names Mary Rimbaud as the author of the text and the work made for hire question is answered “no.” Jason Berta is listed as author of the illustrations and the work made for hire question is answered “yes.” The copyright notice reads “Text and Illustrations ¬© 2011 Mary Rimbaud.” The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant. The copyright notice indicates that this may not be a joint work and that Mary may have hired or commissioned Jason to create the illustrations. If so, Mary should be named as the author of both the text and illustrations, rather than Jason.

 

• Katherine Chen submits an application to register a song. Katherine is named as the author and the work made for hire box has been checked “yes.” The transfer statement reads “I paid my sister Alice to write this song for me, but we don’t have a contract or anything since she’s a member of the family.” The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant. The work does not appear to satisfy the first part of the statutory definition, because it is unlikely that Alice is Katherine’s employee. The work does not satisfy the second part of the definition, because a song is not one of the nine categories of works that may be specially ordered or commissioned.

 

For more information about works made for hire see Chapter 500, Section 506.1.