I hired a developer and they now claim they have a copyright on the code, how did this happen?

In this day of a new app being developed every day, how does the company owner or management know who owns the code developed and when they could lose control over it?

Most issues of ownership for software code fall into areas of copyright (a form of intellectual property or IP), since they are usually “written works of authorship” and primarily covered by US copyright law.  Copyright protection provides the author with protection from reproduction by others.  There are times when works can be reproduced without violating a copyright under things such as the “fair-use doctrine,” such as when sample pages from a book are reprinted in a blog with commentary by the blog author about their thoughts or criticisms about what is being said in the book.  The rights for copyright protection are generally given to the original author of the work for long periods of time (anywhere from 70 years to over 120 years depending upon all the facts).  After that amount of time has passed, the work is considered in the public domain and others can copy it without worrying about infringement.

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