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Works Made for Hire in Copyright Act

Works Made for Hire
Works Made for Hire


Transfer of Artistic Work

Courts have established that when an author creates an artistic work as an employee during employment, ownership transfers to the employer under contingencies outlined in Section 17(c) of Copy right Act

However, in disputes over copyright ownership between an employer and an employee, the Delhi High Court's ruling in Neetu Singh v. Rajiv Saumitra offers clarification:

  • Focus on Employment Terms: Ownership hinges on the terms of the employee's engagement.


To assess ownership, it's crucial to ascertain if the work was created as part of the employment terms for the employer to claim it. This case highlights the factors for scrutiny in determining employment terms, such as reviewing the Articles of Association/Memorandum of Association in the case of a Director, or any existing agreements.

This principle extends to various forms of employment, where ownership rights are determined based on agreements between employers and employees.

Musical Work Ownership

In the case of a musical work, the composer is the initial owner, except when the composition occurs during employment under a service contract. In such instances, the copyright belongs to the employer. However, under a contract for service, the copyright remains with the composer.

Government and Public Sector

If the employer is a government department, in the absence of contrary agreements, the government becomes the primary copyright owner. This applies similarly to works commissioned or created by public-sector entities or international organisations/agencies.


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