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

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Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
Chapter 400
Chapter 500
Chapter 600
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Chapter 800
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Chapter 1600
Chapter 1700
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Chapter 1900
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Chapter 2100
Chapter 2200
Chapter 2300
Chapter 2400

808.10 (A) (3) Joint Authorship

808.10 (A) (3) Joint Authorship

Under the Copyright Act, most motion pictures that are not works made for hire are considered joint works. As described in Section 801.6, 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. For instance, the screenwriter, director, and cinematographer may be joint authors of a motion picture absent any agreement and assuming they each contributed a sufficient amount of original authorship to the work. The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the entire work. In such cases, the authors’ contributions are not subject to separate registrations.

For a general discussion of joint works, see Chapter 500, Section 505.

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