490 U.S. 730 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a judgment which held that a sculpture created by an artist hired by an organization was not a "work made for hire" under provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C.S. § 101. Petitioners, a non-profit organization, hired respondent artist to create a sculpture of homeless individuals for a Christmas contest.
- The Court held that under § 101, a work was a work for hire when either the work was prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment or it was included in the list of nine categories of works enumerated in§ 101.
- The Court rejected petitioners' arguments that the hiring party's right to control or actual control tests should determine whether the work was for hire.
- The Court stated that because the statute did not define the terms "employer" or "employee," they had to rely on the conventional master-servant relationship understood by the common law.
- Respondent was not an employee given the facts that he was hired only for one specific task for a limited time, worked in his own studio with his materials, and was a skilled sculptor.
- Finding that respondent was an independent contractor; the Court affirmed the judgment.
The Court affirmed the judgment and held that respondent artist was not an employee in the traditional common law sense because he was hired for a specific project for a limited time, used his own studio and materials, and was a skilled craftsman; thus, the sculpture was not a work made for hire.
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