Did Orson Welles co-author the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast? The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has told us no, primarily because he only contributed the idea behind the broadcast, and ideas alone can’t be copyrighted. “An Idea of Authorship” challenges this premise—that ideas, no matter how significant, cannot qualify for joint authorship in collaborative works—and argues that we as a society should, under certain circumstances, recognize idea-contributors like Welles as joint authors. We should do so to further our society’s interest in encouraging future creations, as well as out of a sense of equity and fairness to idea-contributors, acknowledging the value of ideas to creative work. Recognizing idea-contributors as joint authors would increase the contractual bargaining power of many of our society’s most creative minds and ultimately better foster the free flow of ideas essential to the constitutional goal of promoting the “Progress of Science and useful Arts.”1

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