06/22/2012 08:43:00 AM EST
Who's the Author? A Bright-Line Rule for Specially Commissioned Works Made for Hire
By Richard D. Palmieri*
*J.D. Candidate 2013, University of Richmond School of Law; M.S., 2005, North Carolina State University; B.S., 2003, North Carolina State University.
Excerpt from Who's the Author? A Bright-Line Rule for Specially Commissioned Works Made for Hire, 46 U. Rich. L. Rev. 1175 (May 2012)
Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet. Whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble. 1
- Mark Twain
When I was recently asked to write a television script, the studio insisted that I sign four copies of an affidavit giving it all rights to my writing "throughout the Universe in perpetuity." I telephoned a studio lawyer to see if I could keep a few moons of Jupiter. The lawyer became angry and pointed to the section of the affidavit in which I recognized that the studio "becomes the Author of the Writer's Work." "We mean it," the lawyer said. 2
- Charles Mann, Contributing Editor, The Atlantic Monthly
"Who's the author" of this comment? Because my name appears at the top of this page and because I actually put fingers to keyboard to type out these words, most people would probably respond, "You are," and wonder why I asked them who authored my own paper. If I asked a copyright practitioner the same question, however, she may have a very different response. Instead of assuming I am the author, she would recognize that, as a single piece written for inclusion in a periodical, this comment is part of a "collective work," statutorily defined as "a work ... in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole." 3Because of this, the copyright ....
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