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An author is a person who creates, comes up or gives existence to something. Most people think of an author as an individual who wrote a paper, book, poem, letter or any kind of literary work. If the work was made for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered the author of the work.

An author in copyright law is the creator of original work. An author can also be the owner of a copyright or multiple copyrights.  

The United States Copyright Act embraces "original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." 

As seen in L. Batlin Son, Inc. v. Snyder, the requirement of “originality” does not necessarily indicate that the work must demonstrate novelty or uniqueness. Instead, in copyright, the terms simply means that a work must be independently created as opposed to being copied from other works. It must also possess some minimal degree of creativity.

The title of author confers upon an individual, distribution rights in relation to a literary, dramatic, artistic, musical or other intellectual works. 

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]