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

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620.10 (C) (1) Transfer by Oral Agreement

620.10 (C) (1) Transfer by Oral Agreement

As discussed above, the copyright in a work created and/or first published on or after January 1, 1978 cannot be transferred by an oral agreement, unless the agreement has been memorialized in a written note or memorandum signed by the copyright owner or the owner’s duly authorized agent. 17 U.S.C. § 204 (A).

If the transfer statement states or suggests that the copyright was transferred to the claimant by oral agreement, the registration specialist will communicate with the applicant to determine whether the agreement was confirmed in a written document signed by the copyright owner. If so, the specialist will ask the applicant for permission to amend the transfer statement to read “by written agreement.”

If the oral agreement has not been confirmed in writing, the specialist will ask the applicant for permission to name the author of the work as the sole copyright claimant.

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