Who Has the Rights to a Collective Work?

A collective work is defined as a work “in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.” Common examples include magazines, academic journals, anthologies, and encyclopedias. The articles, columns, or short stories that make up the collective work are referred to as “contributions to a collective work.”

Under the Copyright Act, special rules apply to collective works.

Copyright in a collective work covers only the collective work as a whole (i.e., the order and organization of the entire magazine or encyclopedia). Thus, the copyright in each individual contribution is distinct from the larger work.

In the absence of an express transfer from the author of the individual article, the copyright owner in the collective work is presumed to have acquired only the right to use the contribution in the collective work and in subsequent revisions and later editions of the collective work. However, in many cases, authors submitting articles to magazines and journals must agree that they will not retain a copyright to the work once it is published as part of a collective work.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need advice on copyrights regarding a contribution to a collective work, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +


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