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Unformatted text preview: 1 COMMUNITY FOR CREATIVE NON-VIOLENCE ET AL. v. REID 490 U.S. 730 (1989) JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court. In this case, an artist and the organization that hired him to produce a sculpture contest the own- ership of the copyright in that work. To resolve this dispute, we must construe the "work made for hire" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 (Act or 1976 Act), 17 U. S. C. §§101 and 201(b), and in particular, the provision in §101, which defines as a "work made for hire" a "work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment" (hereinafter §101(1)). I Petitioners are the Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV), a nonprofit unincorporated association dedicated to eliminating homelessness in America, and Mitch Snyder, a member and trustee of CCNV. In the fall of 1985, CCNV decided to participate in the annual Christmastime Pageant of Peace in Washington, D. C., by sponsoring a display to dramatize the plight of the home- less. As the District Court recounted: "Snyder and fellow CCNV members conceived the idea for the nature of the display: a sculpture of a modern Nativity scene in which, in lieu of the traditional Holy Family, the two adult figures and the infant would appear as contemporary homeless people huddled on a streetside steam grate. The family was to be black (most of the homeless in Washington being black); the figures were to be life-sized, and the steam grate would be positioned atop a platform 'pedestal,' or base, within which special-effects equipment would be enclosed to emit simulated 'steam' through the grid to swirl about the figures. They also settled upon a title for the work -- 'Third World America' -- and a legend for the pedestal: 'and still there is no room at the inn.'" Snyder made inquiries to locate an artist to produce the sculpture. He was referred to respondent James Earl Reid, a Baltimore, Maryland, sculptor. In the course of two telephone calls, Reid agreed to sculpt the three human figures. CCNV agreed to make the steam grate and pedestal for the statue. Reid proposed that the work be cast in bronze, at a total cost of approximately $ 100,000 and taking six to eight months to complete. Snyder rejected that proposal because CCNV did not have sufficient funds, and because the statue had to be completed by December 12 to be included in the pageant. Reid then suggested, and Snyder agreed, that the sculpture would be made of a material known as "Design Cast 62," a synthetic substance that could meet CCNV's monetary and time con- straints, could be tinted to resemble bronze, and could withstand the elements. The parties agreed that the project would cost no more than $ 15,000, not including Reid's services, which he offered to donate. The parties did not sign a written agreement. Neither party mentioned copyright....
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This note was uploaded on 01/13/2012 for the course LAW 33800A taught by Professor Williamfisher during the Fall '10 term at Harvard.
- Fall '10