Joint Work (Co-owners of Copyright)


By Andrew Hudson Published: September 5, 2012 Updated: August 22, 2013

Artistic contributors can be co-owners of copyright, see Brod v. General Publishing, 2002 (I can’t find the text online).

“Joint authorship entitles the co-authors to equal undivided interests in the whole work — in other words, each joint author has the right to use or to license the work as he or she wishes, subject only to the obligation to account to the other joint owner any profits that are made.”
Thomson v. Larson, 1998

“As a general rule, the author is the party who actually creates the work, that is, the person who translates an idea into a fixed tangible expression entitled to copyright protection.”
Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 1989

“Joint Work: a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.”
17 U.S.C. § 101

“In order for Defendants to assert the ‘joint authorship’ defense to Plaintiff’s claim for copyright infringement, Defendants must establish: (1) that the parties intended to be joint authors at the time the photo images were taken; and (2) Defendants’ contributions were independently copyrightable.”
Tang v. Putruss, 2007

“[C]ontribution even of significant language to a work does not automatically suffice to confer co-author status on the contributor … a specific finding of mutual intent remains necessary.”
Thomson v. Larson, 1998

“Mere selection of the subject matter to be photographed does not create joint authorship.”
SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, 2000

“[Co-owners of copyright if artist and hirer prepared the work] with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.”
17 U.S.C. § 101

Also see work made for hire.

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