Aymes v. Bonelli
980 F.2d 857 (2d Cir. 1992)

  • 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 side.
  • 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.