Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 2400

804.8 (A) Joint Authorship

804.8 (A) Joint Authorship


A “joint work” is “a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.” 17 U.S.C. § 101.


Scripts for stage and screen are often written by multiple authors. If the authors of the script intend to merge their contributions into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole, the script is a joint work, and the applicant should name all the joint authors in the application.


Musical plays containing script, lyrics, and music are frequently written by multiple authors. If the authors of the script, lyrics, and music intend to merge their contributions into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole, the musical is a joint work, and the applicant should name all the joint authors in the application.


For examples that illustrate these practices, see Section 801.6.

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