Bonelli hired Aymes to write
computer programs for Bonelli's company.
There was no written
agreement over who owned the copyright on the programs.
Aymes did most of his work
in an office at Bonelli's company, but sometimes was paid by the project,
and sometimes by the hour. Bonelli didn't pay Aymes' health insurance,
or take out withholding taxes.
There was a dispute, and both
Bonelli and Aymes claimed the copyright on the computer programs.
Bonelli argued that Aymes
was an employee of the company, and so the computer program was a work
for hire, so Bonelli owned it.
See 17 U.S.C. §101(1).
Aymes argued that he was an independent
contractor, and therefore the program was not a work for hire.
§101(2) says that work produced by independent
contractors in only a work for hire if the parties
expressly agree to it in writing.
The Trial Court found for
Bonelli. Aymes appealed.
The Trial Court looked to Community
for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid
(490 U.S. 730 (1989)), which said that there were a number of factors
that needed to be weighed to determine if someone was an employee.
Factors include: Right to
control work being performed, skill required, source of
instrumentalities and tools, location of work, duration of relationship,
right to assign additional projects, hired party's discretion, method of
payment, role in hiring and paying assistants, regular course of employer's
business, payment of employee's benefits and taxes.
The Court weighed each
factor equally, counted them up, and found that Bonelli had more on his
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court found
that the factors were not to be weighed equally.
The Court found that some
factors (such as whether the hiring party extended benefits and pay
social security taxes) should receive more weight.