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Scholarly Communication Services - Work Made for Hire

About Work Made for Hire

Works Made for Hire

Work made for hire (also known as work for hire) is a part of U.S. copyright law that defines which creations or tangible works belong to an employer when it is created by their employee during their usual work duties and while using employer-provided support such as technology or workspace.  This may also apply for a work ordered or commissioned falls within 1 of 9 certain categories of works if agreed upon in a contract.  The legal description can be found in USC Title 17 § 201 in the U.S. Copyright Act.

Work Made for Hire in Higher Education.  Higher education, by norm rather than law, usually grants copyright to employees who make creative (e.g., photographs, fiction) or scholarly works (e.g., published articles, poster presentations); these types of works would not be considered those made for hire.  The copyright for instructional works, however, may be considered work made for hire along with works by staff or students when resources (e.g,, technology, workspace) provided by an institution are used.  These determinations can be defined in an institution's intellectual property policies.

Work Made for Hire for Professionals & Creators.  Work made for hire often applies to work done within the usual scope of one's employment, or to work done on a commissioned or contractual basis for an employer or organization.  Certain requirements must be in place for something to be considered a work made for hire.  This Research Guide provides some links to additional information and to help you determine what is involved with agreements about work made for hire.

Disclaimer:  The FAU Libraries and its faculty, staff, and administration are not attorneys and cannot interpret the law.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for advice from legal counsel. 

Related Research Guides

Work Made for Hire Video

Artists House Music (2008).  What is a "work for hire?" [YouTube Video]. https://youtu.be/tchL4l_8YcA

Wallace Collins, a New York-based entertainment attorney, introduces how work made for hire can apply in various professions and includes scenarios from the recording industry.

Work Made for Hire Essentials

Work Made for Hire in Plain Language

Work Made for Hire in Higher Education

Work Made for Hire: FAU Policies

Faculty & Affiliate Work


FAU Student Intellectual Property

See the current version of FAU Catalog in "Academic Policies and Regulations" for policies on intellectual property regarding students involved with university research. 

Work Made for Hire for Professionals & Creators

Whether you work in the music industry or STEM, various professions make use of contractual or temporary employees who create works that can be copyrighted.  If you create works under such terms, you may or may not own the copyright or other benefits of your work.  Experts recommend to know your employment contract and its terms, get informed on works made for hire within your field, and to seek legal advise as needed.