A federal district court recently said screenwriter Victor Miller was the sole owner of the copyright to the script for the original film “Friday the 13.” The original “Friday the 13th” movie, released in 1980, was a huge box office success and led to a long-running film franchise that, to date, consisted of 12 films that grossed an estimated $464 million worldwide. The case offers a lesson about works made for rental under copyright law. While an appeal is pending, it should be noted that the court rejected the plaintiffs` creative attempts to use labor law to determine that Miller was an employee at the time of the script and therefore could not stop his copyright transfer. In fact, the court stubbornly rejected what it called an “attempt to circumvent the Analysis of the Agencies Act ordered by the Supreme Court in the CCNA case.” In addition, the tribunal reaffirmed and upheld the continued applicability of CCNA by examining the CCNA factors exhaustively to determine and establish that Miller was an “independent contractor” and that his script did not qualify as contract labour. The court rejected this “attempt to circumvent the CCNA`s analysis,” ruling that “according to the CCNA`s analysis, there is no reasonable dispute that Miller wrote the script as an independent contractor, [and] […]. that Miller did not prepare the script as a commissioned work under subsection 101(1) of the Copyright Act. The court noted that “the tribunal [CCNA] expressly distinguished the use of agencies` copyright rights from the broader definition of `worker` that was once used in labour law. [and] that the CCNA tribunal in no way expressed an intention to subordinate its analysis of agency law to a different standard. Following its decision “that labour law does not provide any power to circumvent the analysis ordered by the Supreme Court in CCNA to determine the status of a designated party as an employee or independent contractor under the Copyright Act,” the court provided a comprehensive analysis of the application of CCNA factors to this case. Among the CCNA`s factors, “Miller performed skilled work, received no benefits, was not treated as an employee for tax purposes, and his engagement did not give Manny the right to award additional projects.” “Miller was paid lump sums based on his completion of the script and only worked on the script for Manny for a short time,” and he “mostly used his own tools and often worked from home at his own pace.” Therefore, the court found that Miller was an independent contractor and that “Miller was an independent contractor, the script cannot be considered contract work under subsection 101(1). Nor is the screenplay considered to be a commissioned work according to § 101 Abs. 2. .
and Miller must be considered the author of his work on the script, which was the original ownership of the copyright in the script. See 17 United States.C. Article 201 For lawyers or authors (or heirs of authors) who are considering future copyright terminations, but who are concerned about the loss or absence of information that must be included in their termination notices to avoid potential defects, this decision gives reason for optimism. The court`s refusal to invalidate termination notices for minor errors is consistent with Congress` intention to enact copyright law to give authors a second opportunity to participate in the economic success of their works. As the House report to the Copyright Act explains, the provisions were “necessary because of the unequal bargaining power of authors, in part because it is not possible to determine the value of a work until it has been exploited.” See Korman v. HBC Fla., Inc., 182 F.3d 1291, 1296 (11th Cir. 1999); H.R. Rep. No. 94-1476, p. 124 (1976).
Surely it would have been a complete stab in the dark for Miller to predict the multi-million dollar box office success and longevity of the “Friday the 13th” film series that would have come from its original script. In Horror Inc., et al.c Victor Miller, 3:16-cv-01442 (D.Conn. September 28, 2018), the court granted Miller`s request for a summary verdict against Manny Company, the company that hired Miller. As the court explained, “The Copyright Act, which came into force in 1978, just one year before the script [of the theme] was written, provided the authors. the possibility of terminating the granting of their copyright and claiming their copyright, from thirty-five years after the first transfer of their rights. See 17 U.S.C. Article 203(a) For security reasons and to ensure that the public service remains accessible to users, this state computer system uses network traffic monitoring programs to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or modify information, or otherwise cause harm, including attempts to deny service to users. The court stated that this argument was “not the traditional test prescribed by the Supreme Court in CCNA to determine whether an appointed party is an employee or an independent contractor as defined as `contract work` in section 101(1) of the Copyright Act.” “The CCNA`s ESTABLISHED Test is based on the agency`s general customary law rather than labour law and establishes a number of non-exhaustive factors to be used in determining whether work has been prepared by a staff representative.” See CCNA, 490 U.S., pp.
751-52. (emphasis added). However, the plaintiffs argued that “Miller is identical to the definition in the National Labour Relations Act for the purposes of the Copyright Act, and because labour law requires miller to be considered Manny`s employee, Miller must also be considered Manny`s employee under the Copyright Act.” They further stated that “[t]he multifactor test in the CCNA … should only be used if a person`s employment status is not “otherwise clear”. Manny had argued that Miller had prepared the script for “Friday the 13th” as a commissioned work and therefore never owned the copyright in the work. .