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How Do I Qualify for and Obtain Copyrigh... > Federal Registration - Pg. 143

A Primer on Intellectual Property 143 Under the Copyright Act, an employer automatically owns most works created by employees acting within the scope of employment as a work made for hire . Employees should nonetheless sign an assignment of invention agreement (see Chapter 4, "Staffing Up") to avoid disputes over whether a worker is an employee and whether or not the work was created in the scope of employment. Furthermore, some forms of work may not qualify as a work for hire, and an assignment agreement will transfer ownership of these works to the employer. Contractors Unless a contractor signs an agreement to the contrary, work created under contract will probably be owned by the contractor, with the client having a license to use it, if anything. Needless to say, this is generally not a desirable outcome. To avoid it, have a contractor sign an agreement stating that (i) the work is a work made for hire and (ii) to the extent any work produced during the con- tractor's employment does not qualify as a work made for hire, the contractor assigns all other rights in and to the work to your company. The latter language is required because the "work made for hire" category is limited and sometimes your contractor will be creating work that does not quite fit the definition but for which you still require all rights. Software, for example, is generally outside of the work made for hire definition. IP 101