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Assignment of Copyright

What is Assignment of Copyright?

An assignment of copyright is the transfer of an owner or creator’s property rights to a creative work. In these cases, the original owner of the copyright is known as the assignor and the third party that receives the rights to the creation is called the assignee. Although notarization is not explicitly required, the assignment of copyright must be issued in writing. In most cases, a monetary exchange takes place in a copyright assignment, but it isn't necessary for a valid ownership transfer.

As is the case with copyright registration in the United States, a valid transfer of copyright ownership does not require registration with the US Copyright Office. The registration of copyright ownership, however, is recommended since it allows third parties to determine who owns the rights to the creation or invention. 

Key Takeaways

  • Assignment of copyright occurs when the owner of a copyright, known as the assignor, transfers ownership of a creation or invention to a third party known as the assignee.
  • Most assignments of copyrights involve monetary exchange, although it is not required to achieve a valid transfer.
  • It is not necessary to file the transfer with the US Copyright Office, but it is usually recommended. 
  • It is possible to assign copyright to third parties in full or in part. 

Assignment of Copyright Contracts

Assignments of copyright do not need to be registered, but a short-form assignment contract is still required. This contract will typically contain important information about the copyright and the transfer, such as the amount of money being exchanged, a general description of the creation or invention, and the details and signatures of the assignor and assignee. As long as the contract is signed by both parties, includes all of the relevant information and was not made under duress or pressure, it will generally be considered valid.

Copyright assignment does not necessarily entail giving up all your rights to the creation. It is possible to decide whether you want to assign all or some of the rights. For instance, you may choose to assign copyright for a limited amount of time, so the contract will stipulate that all rights return to the assignor after the agreed-upon period. Moreover, you may want to assign  partial copyright for specific purposes. Often, authors assign partial copyright to another entity allowing them to make their book into a movie. Additionally, the author may transfer copyright to a different entity granting them the rights to make the book into a television series. When it comes to partial assignment of copyright, the contract should stipulate exactly what parts of the creation will be transferred.

Bottom Line

Are you considering assigning all or part of your copyright to someone else? Have you been recently assigned copyright and are interested in learning more about your rights? Get assistance with all things copyright assignment by reaching out to a top intellectual property attorney.

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