Billy-Bob Teeth Saves Porn Star: Coping with Defective Work-for-Hire Registrations
Thomas G. Field Jr.
University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center)
December 26, 2010
This paper begins by briefly reviewing statutory provisions that determine initial copyright ownership, govern title transfers, establish requisites to infringement litigation, and bar untimely suits.
It then examines Billy-Bob Teeth and Jules Jordan Video and explains how, in the latter case, the Ninth Circuit applied rationales adopted by the Seventh Circuit in the former case to overturn a JMOL unfavorable to an "adult film" star.
The third part of the paper reviews use of the copyright statute of limitations to resolve competing ownership claims.
The last part of the paper, flagging important differences between § 201(b) and § 204(a), explains why one approach used by the Seventh Circuit to clear title was inappropriately applied by the Ninth Circuit. It concludes that, had the copyright statute of limitations been pled in the later case, the opportunity to misapply § 204(a) should not have arisen. Summary judgment would have been warranted on § 507(b), and that would have made it unnecessary for the Ninth Circuit to offer three alternative ways to extricate a copyright owner from the horns of a dilemma.
A version of the paper, citing later copyright and patent opinions refusing acceptance of nunc pro tunc agreements, is published in 9 U.N.H. L.Rev. 409 (2011).
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: copyright ownership, copyright transfers, overcoming registration mistakes, bars to third party ownership challenges, copyright statute of limitation
JEL Classification: K11, K13, K40
Date posted: December 26, 2010 ; Last revised: July 29, 2011