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McMunigal v. Bloch
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
2010 WL 5399219 (2010)
Kevin McMunigal (plaintiff) was a law professor in Ohio. Kate Bloch (defendant) was a law professor in California. The two agreed to author a criminal-law casebook together and entered into an agreement with Aspen Publishers. Under the agreement, Aspen had all rights to the casebook and the authors were jointly and severally liable for the obligations in the agreement. Throughout the drafting of the casebook, Bloch repeatedly missed deadlines, delaying the release of the casebook. As a result, Aspen decided not to publish a revised edition of the casebook. McMunigal and Bloch then allegedly reached a separation agreement, agreeing to separate as authors and for each to hold sole copyright to their respective parts of the casebook. Aspen offered each party their own contracts to write separate criminal-law books pending formal execution of the separation agreement. McMunigal sought to submit his individual casebook proposal to Aspen, but Bloch repudiated the separation agreement, causing Aspen to withdraw its offer to McMunigal. McMunigal subsequently filed suit in federal district court, seeking declaratory judgment regarding the ownership of the casebook or, in the alternative, a partition of the copyright for the casebook. Bloch filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the ownership was shared as a joint work rather than a collective work.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Illston, J.)
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