Work-for-hire or transfer of copyright? Understanding your rights

In the publishing world, the concepts of “work-for-hire” and “transfer of copyright” can be challenging to navigate. Authors are often confronted in the publishing agreements by language that is vague and complicated, such as: “The work will be a work-made-for-hire as defined by the Copyright Act, but, if the work is deemed not a work-for-hire, author hereby irrevocably transfers all right, title and interest in the work to the publisher for the entire term of copyright throughout the world.”

Learn about the latest court rulings in the Google Books Case

On October 16th, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled in favor of Google and against the Authors Guild in a copyright infringement case that began 10 years ago over Google’s controversial book scanning project. Listen to a recording of The Copyright Clearance Center’s webinar, “A New High-Water Mark on Transformative Use? Update on the Google Books Case”, with attorney Lois Wasoff on the latest court rulings in the Google Books Case.

Q&A: How do you apply for copyright registration?

Q: How do you apply for copyright registration?

A: Lisa Moore, principal of The Moore Firm, LLC:

“It’s very easy to apply for a copyright registration. You can do it online. The Copyright Office’s website is actually an excellent resource.

The process is changing. Back in the day, you had to fill out the form depending on what you were registering. The Copyright Office changed that, and they’re now utilizing one common form that can be done online. It’s much cheaper that way, $35 and you get your registration back much more quickly. If you mail in the old paper forms it takes somewhere between a year and two years to get it back, but if you do it online it’s somewhere between three and six months. Copyright infringement matters have a very short statute of limitations, so it’s critically important that you register as soon as possible.

The statutory termination right: One copyright act provision your publisher hopes you never hear about

In the fall of 1977, Ralph Little had just received his Ph.D. in Elfin Studies and was beginning his first faculty job as an assistant professor at Middle Earth College. Elfin Studies was in its infancy – many universities did not even recognize it as a legitimate discipline — and there was no introductory textbook on the market. Each week Ralph prepared lecture outlines on ditto masters for the dozen intrepid undergraduates in his Elfin Studies 101. When a representative of Colossal Publishers, Inc., came by his office, Ralph, sporting the sideburns and bell-bottoms of the day, told him about his idea of writing an introduction to Elfin Studies.

Soon afterward, Colossal offered Ralph a contract to write his Introduction to Elves, for a royalty of 5 percent of Colossal’s receipts on every copy sold. The royalty sounded almost as diminutive as the subject matter. But Ralph was thrilled to become a textbook author, and the editor promised him that when the book came out, he would be invited to Colossal’s Midwestern sales meeting in Minneapolis. He signed the contract early in 1978, and the first edition was published on January 10, 1980.