Thursday, March 06, 2014

Oscar selfies and bad copyright analysis

Paul Fakler points out that a number of things I've also seen said about copyright in Oscar selfies aren't true.  This one got me the most:
Per­haps the most silly “analy­sis” I have seen so far has been the sug­ges­tion that because Ellen had the idea to take the photo and asked Bradley to take the pic­ture, she owns the copy­right as a work for hire. Any­one with even a pass­ing famil­iar­ity with the actual copy­right law would know this is a non-starter. ...  First, pho­tographs are not among the types of works that can pos­si­bly be a work for hire when cre­ated by a non-employee (unless they are com­mis­sioned as con­tri­bu­tions to col­lec­tive works, which is not the case here). Sec­ond, as far as I have read, there was no writ­ten work for hire agree­ment. Con­trary to some of the “analy­sis” float­ing around out there, there is no “indus­try cus­tom” or “he’s an actor” excep­tion to these statu­tory requirements.
Thanks for the debunking!  (Though I would note that there is a "teacher exception" to the WFH doctrine, and that has no statutory basis either; but since it operates in the opposite direction than these arguments by preventing WFH status rather than conferring it, and since it favors me, I don't think that's a big problem.)

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