In almost all jurisdictions, a work made for hire (work for hire or WFH) is a work created by an employee or a subcontractor as part of their job, or some limited types of works where all parties agree in writing to the WFH designation.

In the United States, work for hire is a statutorily defined term (17 U.S.C. § 101) and as in Switzerland (art. 332 Code of Obligations), so a work for hire is not created merely because parties to an agreement state that the work is a work for hire.

It is an exception to the general rule that the person who actually creates a work is the legally recognized author of that work. According to copyright law in the United States and certain other copyright jurisdictions, if a work is “made for hire”, the employer—not the employee or the subcontractor—is considered the legal author.

In some countries, this is known as corporate authorship. The entity serving as an employer may be a corporation or other legal entity, an organization, or an individual.