The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 3rd, 2014
A provost learns to his dismay that the
university shares copyright ownership of a popular MOOC with the
professor who created it. A professor finds to her surprise that
students who helped produce an animation to illustrate a lecture are
co-owners of the copyright. Yet another professor, who wrote and put
together a video for his course, is shocked to learn that the university
that employs him and the company that produced the video share
copyright ownership of it—without him.
Those scenarios answer the second part of the question posed in this
essay’s title: Why should you care? Now to explain the first half:
What’s a "work for hire"?
The rule of copyright says that you own what you create. Work for
hire is a lonely exception to that rule. If you create a work for hire,
your employer owns the copyright for that work from the moment it comes