Friedrich v Marvel Exercise



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Jan 9, 2024





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Sierra Nielsen LAW 442 University of Arizona College of Law Entertainment Law, Fall 2022 Prof. Robert Woods From: Jeff Wright, Senior Partner To: Junior Associate Re: Copyright renewal term and work for hire Hi there. We have a new client who submitted some short stories to a “true crime” magazine back in the 1960s. The client was paid for his stories and the stories were published in the magazine, but the client never signed any contracts. He has now been approached by a film production company which wants to make a movie based on one of those stories. Our client is not sure if he owns the copyright. He has told me that the magazine is claiming it owns the copyrights in the short stories as works for hire. I hear that the case of Gary Friedrich Enterprises v. Marvel may address issues concerning copyright renewal rights and work for hire in a situation like this. Please write up a short memo summarizing that case and giving me your conclusions about whether our client or the magazine likely owns the copyright in the short stories. From: Junior Assosiate To: Jeff Wright, Senior Partner Re: Copyright renewal term and work for hire In the Gary Friedrich Enterprises v. Marvel case, Gary Friedrich, a comic book writer, claimed ownership of the copyright in the character Ghost Rider. Marvel claimed ownership of Friedrich's work because it was made as a work for hire. Whether Friedrich's contributions were made as an independent contractor or within the limits of his employment was an important consideration. The court decided in Marvel's favor, emphasizing the lack of a formal contract and the mutual understanding that Friedrich was offering his abilities as a work for hire. The need for clear contractual agreements has been reinforced by this ruling, especially if there isn't a documented contract. By applying the rulings in Gary Friedrich Enterprises v. Marvel to our client's case, it can be seen that a "work for hire" relationship still exists even without the existence of a signed contract. The most important factor will be whether our client and the magazine agreed that the stories were created as independent contributions or as part of their job responsibilities. It is important to look for any communications or agreements that may already exist between our client and the publication, considering the potential effects of the "work for hire" clause. The magazine might have a strong case for copyright if there is proof of a "work for hire" contract. However, our client might have a better case for ownership if no agreement is found.