Copyright in Teams
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.