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.