Works Made for Hire
Employers may own works:
- Created by employees
- Within course and scope of employment
- No written agreement required
Work Made For Hire
Copyright law provides that initial ownership of copyright vests
with the author of the work unless the work is created by an employee
within the course and scope of employment, in which case the employer
would own the work. This is known as "work made for hire".
Does this mean that all works created by anyone paid by the University
are works made for hire? No. Some works meet this definition and
others do not. Reaching a determination of whether or not a particular
work is a work made for hire requires a careful analysis of the
circumstances under which the work was created.
University of Washington
Generally, when a work arises in the University from individual
initiative it tends to be viewed as a work belonging to the creator
rather than the employer.
The UW Copyright Policy expressly encourages the creation of scholarly
works of individual initiative and "acknowledges the right
of faculty, staff, and students to prepare and publish, through
individual initiative, articles, pamphlets, and books that are copyrighted
by the authors or their publishers and that may generate royalty
income for the authors."
The UW Copyright Policy further states that "University faculty,
staff, and students retain all rights in copyrightable materials
they create, except when special circumstances or contractual arrangements
prevail." Special circumstances or contractual arrangements
that may give rise to University ownership or financial interests
in a work include those works subject to terms of sponsored grants
or contracts, works specially commissioned by the University, and
works created using University service centers.
It is important to understand what, if any, contributions to a project will
be owned by the University as works made for hire. Contact UW TechTransfer
Digital Ventures if
you have questions about your project.