Which License Should I Use?

Andrew Koenig ark at acm.org
Tue Nov 29 18:47:29 CET 2005

"Robert Kern" <robert.kern at gmail.com> wrote in message 
news:mailman.1248.1133119309.18701.python-list at python.org...
> Andrew Koenig wrote:

>> I'm pretty sure that there was a change to the copyright laws a few years
>> ago (perhaps as part of the DMCA), that made it clear that you own
>> everything you produce, unless you're a W-2 employee or there is a 
>> written
>> agreement to the contrary.
> The US Copyright Office does not agree with you.
>  http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf

Well, it comes pretty close to agreeing with me--the only issue is whether 
the definition of "employee" extends beyond the notion of "W-2 employee" and 
that issue is not really relevant to the original posting.

Here's the relevant quote:

If a work is created by an employee, part 1 of the statutory definition 
applies, and generally the work would be considered a work made for hire. 
Important: The term "employee" here is not really the same as the common 
understanding of the term; for copyright purposes, it means an employee 
under the general common law of agency. This is explained in further detail 
below. Please read about this at "Employer-Employee Relationship Under 
Agency Law." If a work is created by an independent contractor (that is, 
someone who is not an employee under the general common law of agency), then 
the work is a specially ordered or commissioned work, and part 2 of the 
statutory definition applies. Such a work can be a work made for hire only 
if both of the following conditions are met: (1) it comes within one of the 
nine categories of works listed in part 2 of the definition and (2) there is 
a written agreement between the parties specifying that the work is a work 
made for hire.

The reason I say that the distinction between W-2 employment and agency 
employment isn't really relevant is that in the kind of situation we're 
talking about, there is generally a written agreement specifying scope and 
nature of work.

So I'll amend my statement slightly:

    If someone pays you to produce a specific piece of work, or you're an 
employee, any work you do for hire belongs to your employer.  Otherwise, 
it's yours unless there's a written agreement to the contrary.

I think that's a fair paraphrase of the paragraph I cited.  If you disagree, 
please say why.

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