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Information: Co-authors or joint authors


Joint authorship or co-authorship

Copyright protection applies to all original works, including books, artworks and songs.

The author is the person who creates the work, eg writes the book, and he/she is normally the first owner of copyright in that work, unless it was created by an employee in the course of their employment.

A work of “joint authorship” arises from collaboration between two or more authors, where the contribution each has made to the work cannot be distinguished from the other. A work of joint authorship is different to works of “co-authorship”, where the author of a musical work and the author of a literary work collaborate to create two works to be used together, such as a musical or an opera. In this situation, the individual contributions can be distinguished (i.e. one creating the music, the other creating the libretto).

Copyright in a work of joint authorship and works of co-authorship last for the life of the last surviving author plus a further 70 years.

Joint owners of copyright in a literary work must both agree to any exploitation of their work.

Note that the copyright in the text of a book (the literary work) and the copyright in any illustration or photograph in that book are treated separately. Original illustrations or photographs are copyright artistic works in their own right but if produced in collaboration they might fall under works of co-authorship.


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