30/11/17 What is a work made for hire?
An employee who creates a work within the scope of his or her employment produces a “work made for hire.” Copyright in that work is owned by that employee’s employer. Contrary to near-universal intuitive belief, a work made for hire does not automatically result every time a work is commissioned for remuneration. A specially commissioned work can be a work made for hire, but only if there is a written agreement specifically commissioning the work as a work made for hire, and the work falls within one of nine specific categories set forth in the copyright law. This curiously disparate list of potential works made for hire consists of: (1) a contribution to a collective work (an article for a magazine, for example); (2) part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; (3) a translation; (4) a supplementary work; (5) a compilation; (6) an instructional text; (7) a test; (8) answer material for a test; (9) an atlas. Determining whether a specific work is a work made for hire can be a very difficult and complex legal task. In some critical cases it has resulted in long and expensive litigation.