The creator of a work is, at least presumptively, its author and the owner of the copyright. Additionally, under the "works for hire" doctrine, an employer is deemed the "author" and copyright holder of a work created by an employee acting within the scope of employment.
Plaintiff was a music aficionado and befriended defendants, who were in a band. As part of the friendship, plaintiff arranged and paid for two recording sessions, for the purposes of creating a "demo" tape for the defendants, that might capture the interest of record companies. A record representative attended the recording session, and besides asking the band to perform certain songs, plaintiff did not contribute to the record at all. When the band became successful, plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment awarding him royalties. The trial court ruled against plaintiff, and the plaintiff now appeals.
Whether plaintiff "owns" the tapes, to the extent that he could publish them?
No, plaintiff does not "own" the tapes, and thus may not publish them.
In affirming the lower court's ruling, and siding with the defendants, the court held that the "Works for Hire" doctrine failed because appellant neither employed, commissioned, compensated, nor agreed to compensate the appellee. Further, the doctrine of Joint Ownership also failed because the appellant made no musical or artistic contribution to the tapes, and did not supervise or edit the production at all.