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Copyright Law

Who owns the copyright to a certain book?

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November 06, 2007 5:02PM

The ownership of copyright in a literary work depends on a number of factors, the most important of which include:

* When was the original work created?

* When was it published (if ever)?

* Was the author an employee of someone else?

* Did the author have a written agreement to transfer his or her ownership to someone else (e.g., a publisher)?

* Does anyone have an "exclusive license" for any or all of the rights in the copyright (publish, distribute, translate, etc)?

* Was more than one author involved (joint ownership)?

* When did the last surviving author die?

Many publishers or authors register and deposit copies in the U.S. Copyright Office, and there is a database that can be searched.

See related questions on how long copyright lasts, and so forth.