Transfer of Copyright Ownership

Any or all of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, or parts of those rights, can be transferred. The transfer, however, generally must be made in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s authorized agent. Transferring a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement.

You can bequeath a copyright by will or pass it along as personal property under applicable state laws of intestate succession. It can also be conveyed by operation of law. You can “record” a transfer of copyright ownership with the Copyright Office through its Office of Public Records and Repositories. Although recordation is not required to make a valid transfer between parties, it does provide certain legal advantages. For more information, see Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents (Circular 12).

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