Speech, Authorship, and Inventorship: A New Approach to Corporate Personhood

53 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2012 Last revised: 8 Jun 2012

See all articles by Sean M. O'Connor

Sean M. O'Connor

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: March 4, 2012


Recent developments relating to corporate speech, authorship, and inventorship suggest a collision of three policy principles: the right of associations to speak with a collective voice; the right of individuals to own or receive credit for the products of their intellect; and the need of innovation firms to control the intellectual output of individuals hired to create. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court upheld a right to corporate political speech as a form of collective voice. But in Stanford v. Roche, the Court affirmed the rule that patentable inventions vest ab initio with their natural person inventors. Meanwhile, in copyright the line between work made for hire and assignments is being tested as the first set of termination rights established in the Copyright Act of 1976 are now eligible for exercise. Recording artists have given notice of termination, but record labels are resisting by claiming the copyrighted materials are works made for hire and thus ineligible for the termination rights. This article weaves together recent work in the history of corporations, authorship, and inventorship to produce a fresh approach to corporate personhood and the allocation of products of the human mind.

Keywords: authorship, copyright, corporations, innovation, invention, intellectual property, legal history, patent law, personhood, works made for hire

Suggested Citation

O'Connor, Sean M., Speech, Authorship, and Inventorship: A New Approach to Corporate Personhood (March 4, 2012). University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2012-03; Innovation, Economic Growth and Human Behavior, Squaw Valley 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2016568 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2016568

Sean M. O'Connor (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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