Subject: RE: Standing on multi-authored works
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <>
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 18:00:00 -0700

Hi Cody,

Thanks for forwarding the reference to the Morris case. Here's how one
analyst summarized that case:

    In Morris, the United States Court of Appeals for the 
    Second Circuit (“Court”) decided that freelance writers
    who retain any rights in the copyrights for their work
    cannot rely upon the copyright registration of the magazine
    or newspaper to which they submit said work for purposes of
    satisfying the copyright registration requirement that is
    necessary prior to filing an infringement action.

If that's the holding, then it seems to me the case applies to a situation
where the contributor wants to rely on the collective work copyright
registration rather than get his own. The author of the collective work can
protect his collective work regardless of whether the underlying
contributions are registered. After all, consider the edge case where a
collective work contains only public domain contributions....


Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242  ●  fax: 707-485-1243
Author of “Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom 
               and Intellectual Property Law” (Prentice Hall 2004)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: cody koeninger []
> Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 11:32 AM
> To: Brian Behlendorf
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Standing on multi-authored works
> --- Brian Behlendorf <> wrote:
> > IANAL, but my understanding is as follows.  You can
> > enforce the collective
> > copyright without being the exclusive licensee of
> > the copyrights within
> > the collection.  . . .
> Thanks for bringing this up.  I'd agree with your
> understanding in general, but also watch out for:
> Registration is a prerequisite to suit.  Even if a
> non-exclusive licensee is trying to enforce only as to
> the collective work, the underlying works may need to
> be individually registered. (Morris v. Business
> Concepts, Inc)
> This limitation probably doesn't apply to the
> exclusive licensee: registration of the collective
> work alone is  enough. (Xoom, Inc. v. Imageline)
> This moves the problem from trying to join all the
> other authors, to trying to convince all the other
> authors to register their works.  Although that's
> considerably preferable to assignment, in my opinion.
> > Anyone know if there's been a case already that has
> > considered the
> > interwoven nature of contributions to Open Source
> > works when compared to
> > "anthologies of poems" in considering who has
> > standing in an infringement
> > of the collective work?
> No, but I'd be interested to find out . . . see what I
> can dig up.
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