Assigning Copyright

There are basically two ways to figure out if a copyright has been transferred from one person to another.

One way is to review the copyright registration certificate issued by the Copyright Office.

About the Author: Christine Varad is the principal writer and editor for Varacolors Media.

She earned her JD in law from New England Law and holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Exclusive vs Non-Exclusive License There are various types of written transfer of copyright ownership.

The Copyright Act of 1976 specifies that the “transfer of copyright ownership is an assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, transfer by will or intestate succession, or any other change in the ownership of any or all of the exclusive rights in a copyright, whether or not limited in time or place of effect, but not including a non-exclusive license.” Transfer of Copyright under Work-for Hire Agreements Recognizing copyright transfer or assignment language in work-for-hire and even in general independent contractor work contracts can sometimes be quite difficult.A copyright owner's exclusive rights (either in whole or in part) can be transferred to another party, but it must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner to be considered valid.An authorized agent of the copyright owner (such as an attorney or business associate) can also sign the writing. Copyright Office doesn't have forms for transfers of copyrights, so these transfers are normally made via contracts.If the owner is transferring nonexclusive rights, however, a written agreement is not required. The Copyright Office does, however, record transfers of copyrights.While recording the transfers with the Copyright Office is not required for a valid transfer, it can provide certain legal advantages and may also be required in order to validate a transfer against a third party.Copyright Assignment vs Copyright License The transfer of a copyright assignment and a copyright license differ greatly in measure and in finality.A copyright assignment occurs when in his original work.On the other hand, a copyright license is an agreement that transfers only a portion of the owner’s rights in the copyright such as a permission to use the copyrighted material in some specified manner and for some limited amount of time.The copyright owner retains ownership of the copyright in the case of a licensing agreement.The work is considered to be protected by copyright upon its creation.There are instances where an author may want to transfer some or all of his or her copyright to another person or entity.

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