This week the Third Circuit decided two issues of first impression in the circuit: (1) when a claim of joint authorship arises and accrues under the Copyright Act; and (2) whether courts are imbued with the authority to cancel copyrights.
Tina Lindsay and Peter Brownstein worked for a direct mailing list company. While there, they began working on their own venture: an ethnic identification system for purposes of direct marketing. Lindsay developed the step-by-step rules, and she enlisted Brownstein to develop the code.
Throughout the process the two considered each other joint-owners, though afterward, in a series of agreements, Lindsay tried to act as the sole owner of the copyrights. The court found that Brownstein and Lindsay were indeed joint owners, and that Lindsay's claims that Brownstein worked for hire were without merit, because among other things, he was never compensated.