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Is your creation a work for hire?

When a work is created, there are generally a number of rights that also arise with the creation of the work. If the person or persons who created the work did so independently, then the rights belong to them. However, in some circumstances, the copyright to a work may not automatically belong to the individual or individuals who created it. This is usually true when a piece of work is created as a part of employment. This is generally known as a "work for hire."

If a person makes something because it is his or her job to do so, then the entity employing him or her legally owns the rights to the created work, at least in most cases. If this is difficult to understand, you may consider thinking about it in terms of building a table.

If a person undertakes the task of building a table on his or her own, then he or she clearly owns the table and has the right to decide who should have it or what should happen to it. However, if one person hires the other person to make a table, then it is easy to assume that he or she will also own the table once it is done.

When it comes to creative works, things can get a bit tricky. If you work for an employer and have an employment contract that uses broad, general language about the scope of your employment, then it is possible that an employer may make a claim against something you made in the course of your employment — even if the work is not the direct product of your employment.

If you are not sure if something you made belongs to you or your employer, it is always wise to consult with an attorney who understands copyright law and can help you understand and protect your own rights and interests toward the piece of work.

Source: Findlaw, "What is a "Work Made For Hire"?," accessed July 14, 2017

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