When you are completing the tool using the hypo, feel free to make up the details of your name, that of your family members, the title of your work and its copyright registration number. The other details you need to test out different results in the tool should be included in the hypos but if you feel they are not, feel free to make them up as well to explore the tool’s different results and functions.
Hypo 1: You are an author who wrote a book in 1965. You wrote it on your own time and dime, definitely not as part of your employment or at anyone else’s suggestion, commissioning or order. In 1980, you were thrilled to get a publication deal so you signed an exclusive publishing agreement with BigBook Co. which gave them the right to publish and distribute your book for the term of copyright (your life plus 70 years). They published it in the same year you signed the agreement, in 1980. Now it’s the year 2007. The book has sold well but your royalty check each quarter is pretty small. You want a better deal and want to see if you might be able to terminate the publishing deal.
Hypo 2: You are a graphic designer and have created countless pieces of artwork. For one project in 1984, a company approached you and commissioned you to create some pictures and graphic work for inclusion in a textbook and other professional instructional reference books. You agree and enter into a written contract with them that you both sign. One term of the contract requires you to agree that the graphics you are creating is a “work for hire.” Now in 2007 you realize that you could reuse those graphics for other projects that you work on from time to time and wonder if you can get the rights back.
Hypo 3: Your father was a filmmaker and created a film in 1923 all by himself, on his own time and without any backing or direction by anyone else. In 1925, he entered into a distribution licensing agreement with MajorMovieCo that gave them the worldwide rights to distribute and license the movie for theatre performances for 90 years. They released it to the public in 1927. Both your father and your mother died in 1963 and 1965, respectively. You now wonder if it is possible to get back the rights to the movie and see if you can negotiate a better deal.
Hypo 4: You occasionally draw cartoons in your spare time and drew a great series in 1992. You happened to show them to a video game company. The video game company was excited by your talent and asked you to enter into an exclusive 50-year license for them to be able to use your cartoons however they want. You agreed in exchange for a lump sum payment and the hope that they would do something cool and big with your drawings and get your name out there. You signed the deal in 1996. But they only released a small number of games using the cartoon in 2005 and the impact has been minimal. You are frustrated because you have now met a lot of other people who would have been interested in utilizing your work in a bigger market now. You want to see if you can terminate the exclusive license now in 2007.
Hypo 5: Your wife was songwriter and performer. She did odd jobs to support her music but always created her music for herself, by herself; never as an employee or for commission. She met Mr. Record Producer who was awed by her talent and together they agreed that she would record some of her songs on an album and he would assist her technically in recording it. The album was recorded and released in 1948 and your wife and the record producer entered into a recording deal under which she agreed to assign the copyright in all of the songs on the album to the record producer. Consistent with then US copyright law, Mr. Record Producer asked you to sign, also in 1948, an assignment of any future interest you may obtain to the copyright in the album in the event something were to happen to your wife. Unfortunately, something did happen and she passed away in 1949. This meant that under then current US copyright law, your assignment to Mr. Record Producer became effective. You and your wife have two children, one of whom also unfortunately passed away in 1964, leaving behind one child (your grandchild). Now in 2007 Mr. Record Producer continues to exploit the album but you wonder if there is a way for you to be able to regain control of the rights you assigned away in 1948 under your agreement with Mr. Record Producer.