Ethics and Business Law

Date of this version


Document Type

Book Chapter


Copyright, Work-for-Hire


U.S. copyright law mandates the employer is both the author and owner of any work created by an employee within the scope of employment. This “work for hire” doctrine extends to categories of copyrighted works created by independent contractors. Moral rights do not provide relief to these individuals. Since the U.S. became a contracting state to the Berne Convention, it has allowed moral rights to be freely alienated or waived under Federal law. These two factors conflict with the legal environment for authorship in many countries. Given the territoriality of intellectual property laws, the differing approaches to authorship and ownership become problematic in the context of global work forces. If a multinational company hires individuals in Boston, Berlin and Bangalore to contribute to a copyrighted work, who may claim authorship? How is ownership of the work secured? This research explores the differing approaches to facilitate managing copyright ownership and authorship in a globally distributed work environment.

Published in

Managing the Legal Nexus Between Intellectual Property and Employees: Domestic and Global Contexts

Citation/Other Information

Marsnik, S. J., & Lorentz, R. M. (2015). Who Owns Employee Works? Pitfalls in a Globally Distributed Work Environment. In Managing the Legal Nexus Among Intellectual Property, Employees, and Global Trade: Domestic and Global Contexts (pp. 226-255).