|Title:||Work made for hire – Analyzing the multifactor balancing test|
|Citation:||Vacca, R. (2014). Work made for hire – Analyzing the multifactor balancing test. University of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-03. Available at SSRN 2405015|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The author located all of the work made for hire cases decided under the 1976 Copyright Act from June 5
1989 through February 27 2014, which yielded a total of 46 cases.
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Authorship, and hence, initial ownership of copyrighted works is oftentimes controlled by the 1976 Copyright Act’s work made for hire doctrine. This doctrine states that works created by employees within the scope of their employment result in the employer owning the copyright. One key determination in this analysis is whether the hired party is an employee or independent contractor. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court, in CCNV v. Reid, answered the question of how employees are distinguished from independent contractors by setting forth a list of factors courts should consider. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not give further guidance on how to balance these factors. Three years later, in 1992, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided Aymes v. Bonelli and noted that not all factors are equally weighted and that five of the factors would “be significant in virtually every situation.” This analysis was supported by looking at all the work made for hire cases decided in the three year period since Reid – six cases in total. This Article expands in both scope and time what the Second Circuit did in Aymes and systematically analyzes how courts have utilized the factors in the twenty-five years since Reid. In particular, this study has identified the universe of cases where the courts have decided whether a hired party was an employee or independent contractor and uses the data from these cases to describe what factors appear to be the most and least important in reaching these conclusions. Based on the results of this study, this Article proposes a continuum of importance, which graphically illustrates the relative importance of each factor.
Main Results of the Study
- Although the Supreme Court cast the rejected “right to control” test as focusing on controlling the product as opposed to controlling the manner and means of production, it is questionable whether there is a meaningful difference between them.
- Even assuming the Supreme Court had correctly understood the “right to control” test, the results of this study suggest that the right to control is unimportant.
- The Supreme Court’s rejection of the “right to control” test is consistent with the results of this study. However, because the Supreme Court misunderstood the test, the reason for the consistency has little to do with the Court’s rationale for rejecting the test.
- The results of this study should assist attorneys in evaluating their clients’ cases and giving more informed recommendations about whether to settle a dispute and for how much. Focusing on the most important factors can provide increased predictability and certainty.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
In the event Congress has the opportunity to revisit the work made for hire doctrine and believes predictability and certainty are still valuable goals vis à vis copyright ownership, then perhaps Congress could provide more guidance as to what constitutes an employer-employee relationship by recognizing these factors as existing in tiers.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Work made for hire cases|
|Period of material under study:||1989-2014|