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What is a work-made-for-hire?

Answer: A work-made-for-hire is a special exception to the general rule that the person who creates a work is the “author” of that work.  When a work is created in an employment context, the employer, rather than the employee, is typically considered the “author.” Another way to think of this is that works-made-for-hire are works made by employees on behalf of their employers within the scope of their employment.

In addition, there are nine special categories of works which may be considered works-made-for-hire, even if they are not created by employees but are created outside of the employment context:  A specially commissioned work for use as part of a motion picture or other audio visual work, a translation, or a musical arrangement, to cite a few examples, can become works-made-for-hire provided there is a written agreement between the parties so specifying.  Other types of works, such as sound recordings, can never be considered works-made-for-hire outside of an employment context.