Professor Patry has a great post up on the decision. Among other things, he runs through the differences between U.S. and U.K. law when it comes to joint authorship, including the following:
- The concept of a "40% author" doesn't apply in the U.S. "In the U.S., joint authors own an undivided interest in the whole according to the number of co-authors: two own 50%, three 33 1/3%, etc. This is without regard to the respective qualitative or quantitative contributions: with two co-authors each own a 50% interest even if one contributed only 10% to the work." (He adds that "because of this, one would think that the threshold for being a joint author would be high [under U.S. law], but it really isn’t, aside from having to contribute expression and having an intent to be a joint author.")
- "Another difference between the two countries’ laws ... is that in the U.K., joint authors cannot license a work without the others’ permission, whereas in the U.S., joint authors can unilaterally license the work on a non-exclusive basis."
- "But the biggest difference is that in the U.S., [the] case would have been dismissed at the outset on statute of limitations grounds; the song was, after all, written and performed and credit taken in 1967."