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3.3 Who owns copyright?

The first owner of the copyright in a work is usually the person who brought the work in question into existence (e.g. the author of a novel, the painter of a picture, or the composer of a piece of music). Interestingly, it is a different system with films and sound recordings, where the first copyright owner is usually the person who made the arrangements to enable the recording or film to be made. The law in many countries does not require any formalities to vest (i.e. assign) the copyright to the original owner. The owner may license various uses of the work and, indeed, may completely transfer copyright entirely.

However, where a work is made by an employee in the course of their employment (or by a student as part of their studies), then the copyright usually belongs to the employer. This is usually made clear in the contract of employment (also referred to as ‘terms and conditions’). Note that this includes work done outside normal hours, or on private equipment where it clearly relates to their contract of employment. It is worth noting that this can be an area of conflict between employees and employers, so if this is something that you may venture into at some point in the future, you should seek expert advice.