The author is usually the owner.
Except when work-for-hire rules apply. The author's employer owns work(s) if:
- Created by an employee within the scope of employment, or
- That fall within one or more of the nine statutory categories, where an agreement commissioning the work is in writing and signed by the creator or creators before work begins.
- The nine statutory categories include: contribution to a collective work; part of a movie or other audiovisual work; a translation; a supplementary work; a compilation; an instructional text; a test; answer material for a test; or an atlas
- If a work doesn't fit within the statutory definition of a work-for-hire, the employer may still own it if the author assigns the copyright to the employer or contractor.
An author-owner is free to assign copyright to anyone, so a written contract can change these basic rules. As an example, many publishers require assignment of copyright as a condition of publication
Policies, such as the U.T. System Intellectual Property Policy can also change the ownership rules.
- They can permit faculty ownership of scholarly, artistic, literary, musical, and educational materials within the author's field of expertise.
Collaborations in online environments usually involve:
- Inter-institutional collaborators or other non-affiliated collaborators
- Student contributions
- Contract labor contributions
- Non-faculty university employee contributions
In order to be joint authors of a work, each person must:
- Contribute copyrightable expression, and
- Intend at the time the work is created that all contributors will be joint owners of the whole finished work.