Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid
490 U.S. 730 (1989)

  • CCNV wanted a sculpture to illustrate the plight of the homeless. They contracted with a sculptor named Reid to make the sculpture. CCNV paid for the materials, but Reid donated his time.
    • CCNV provided input on what the sculpture was to entail, but Reid retained significant creative control.
  • Eventually the sculpture was finished and CCNV paid $15k. However, when they announced plans to take the sculpture on a multi-city tour, Reid refused to give up possession of it, and filed a certificate of copyright registration.
    • Reid argued that he was a co-author of the sculpture.
    • CCNV argued that they paid for the sculpture and were the ones who directed its creation. Therefore Reid's contribution did not make him a co-author since it was just work for hire.
  • The Trial Court found for Reid. CCNV appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the sculpture was a work for hire under 17 U.S.C. 101(1) because CCNV was the motivating force behind the sculpture's production.
  • The Appellate Court reversed. CCNV appealed.
    • The Appellate Court found that Reid was not an employee of CCNV, but instead was an independent contractor. Therefore it did not meet the definition of a work for hire under 101(1) (works prepared by an employee).
    • Note that Reid could not have been covered by 101(2) (works prepared by an independent contractor), because under that clause the parties must "expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire."
  • The US Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The US Supreme Court looked to bunch of different theories courts had used to determine if something was a work for hire under 101(1) and decided that most of them were not useful. The Court decided that they would fall back on the common-law doctrine of 'agency' to determine if Reid was acting as an agent of CCNV when he made the sculpture.
    • The Court found that there were a number of factors in determining whether a hired party is an employee under the general common-law of agency, including:
      • 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.
      • See Restatement (Second) of Agency 228.
    • The Court weighed all the factors, and decided that Reid was an independent contractor, not an employee. Therefore the sculpture was not a work for hire under 101.
    • The Court found that the sculpture might be a joint work since CCNV did contribute to its design.