Copyright a procedure manual?
August 11, 2011 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Can I copyright a procedure manual or a process written/created as an employee?

I created a process and wrote a procedure manual for my current job after I completely revamped the department. My boss is being sneaky and is now looking to replace me with someone with less experience/less pay now that I have this place completely revamped and running like a finely tuned machine. I never would have worked as hard as I did had I known that this was his plan. What a stinker!

Can I copyright the manual I wrote?
posted by Snackpants to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Did you sign an employment contract that included an Assignment of Rights? What state are you in?
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:56 AM on August 11, 2011

Probably not. Except in special circumstances that you'd probably know about if they applied, anything you do as a part of your job is considered work for hire, so it belongs to your employer, not you.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:58 AM on August 11, 2011

IANAL (and of course you'll want to check your contract) but the answer is almost certainly nope. This is classic work for hire; assuming you're in the US, the relevant portion of the Copyright Act is:
A "work made for hire" is— (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment
posted by bcwinters at 10:58 AM on August 11, 2011

The manual you wrote is already copyrighted (works are copyrighted automatically when "fixed in a tangible form") and since it was created in the course of your job duties, is owned by your employer as a "work for hire."
posted by kindall at 10:59 AM on August 11, 2011

Drat. Thank you.
posted by Snackpants at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2011

You should still take complete credit for it on your resume which you should be updating right now prior to sending it out to all your company's rivals. Regardless of the outcome, always work to the best of your abilities.
posted by JJ86 at 3:42 PM on August 11, 2011

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