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My wife (a violinist) is recording an album and paying a musician to play the piano improvisationally, as she described what she wanted, and to protect her rights to distribute and earn money from the work, she would like to have the musician sign over copyright of the arrangements and performances to her.

In the state of New York, is a short signed statement to that effect sufficient? Something like:

In exchange for compensation in the form of ________ I have been paid I assign complete copyright of my performance and the arrangement of the music pieces known as __________________ to Natalie Hall.

X_____________________

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As the piano player is doing work for hire the copyright probably belongs to your wife anyway; notwithstanding, it doesn't hurt to make this explicit that they are doing work for hire and that copyright belongs to her. There is no need for anything formal, just include it in the correspondence where you offer him the job.

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