“Stitching Together” Multiple Documents Is Inadequate to Meet Work-for-Hire’s Written-Instrument Requirement

The court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ action seeking a declaratory judgment of ownership because plaintiffs failed to proffer a signed work-for-hire agreement. “In light of [the] circumstances, to state a plausible claim of ownership, [plaintiff] must allege both the existence of a written instrument signed by the parties and that [the software at issue] qualifies as one of the enumerated categories that would make [the software] eligible to be commissioned under the Copyright Act as a work-for-hire. . . . Plaintiffs contend that the written-instrument requirement is satisfied by a combination of [two software development proposals]. Because [one of the proposals] states that the developed software ‘shall be the property of [plaintiff]⁠’ and [the other proposal] details the creation of the software, Plaintiffs argue, the parties clearly intended a work-for-hire relationship. But neither [proposal] is a written instrument signed by both parties. The [first proposal] is not signed by either party. And only [plaintiff] signed the [second] Proposal. Plaintiffs do not cite, nor has the Court identified, any legal authority for Plaintiffs’ theory that multiple documents when read together can satisfy the written-instrument requirement of the Copyright Act. Moreover, stitching together multiple documents to ascertain implied intent is at odds with both the language and purpose of the Copyright Act’s work-for-hire provision.”

Professional Portable X-Ray, Inc. et al v. Nelson et al, 0-17-cv-02469 (MND 2018-03-07, Order) (Wilhelmina M. Wright)

2018-03-09T13:08:02+00:00 March 9th, 2018|Copyright, Docket Report|