Copyright in Teams

59 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2013 Last revised: 10 Apr 2014

See all articles by Anthony J. Casey

Anthony J. Casey

University of Chicago Law School; ECGI

Andres Sawicki

University of Miami - School of Law

Date Written: May 1, 2013


Dozens of people worked together to produce Casablanca. But a single person working alone wrote The Sound and the Fury. While almost all films are produced by large collaborations, no great novel ever resulted from the work of a team. Why does the frequency and success of collaborative creative production vary across art forms?

The answer lies in significant part at the intersection of intellectual property law and the theory of the firm. Existing analyses in this area often focus on patent law and look almost exclusively to a property-rights theory of the firm. The implications of organizational theory for collaborative creativity and its intersection with copyright law have been less examined. To fill this gap, we look to team production and moral-hazard theories to understand how copyright law can facilitate or impede collaborative creative production. While existing legal theories look only at how creative goods are integrated with complementary assets, we explore how the creative goods themselves are produced. This analysis sheds new light on poorly understood features of copyright law, including the derivative-works right, the ownership structure of a joint work, and the work-made-for-hire doctrine.

Keywords: intellectual property, copyright, creativity, law and economics, theory of the firm, organizational theory, derivative works, works made for hire, joint works, collaboration

JEL Classification: D21, D23, K00, K11, K39, L22, L23

Suggested Citation

Casey, Anthony Joseph and Sawicki, Andres, Copyright in Teams (May 1, 2013). 80 University of Chicago Law Review 1683 (2013), University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 641, Available at SSRN:

Anthony Joseph Casey

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

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773.702.9578 (Phone)


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Andres Sawicki (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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