Joint Work Law and Legal Definition
Federal Law defines a "joint work" as a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. [17 USCS § 101] The most common example of a joint work is when a book or article has two or more authors. However, if a book is written primarily by one author and another author contributes a specific chapter to the book and is given credit for that chapter that is not a joint work because the specific chapter is not inseparable or interdependent. The U.S. Copyright Office considers joint copyright owners to have an equal right to register and enforce the copyright regardless of how their shares in the work are divided. Unless the joint owners make a written agreement to the contrary, each copyright owner has the right to commercially exploit the copyright, provided that the other copyright owners get an equal share of the proceeds.