Does a Copyright Coowner’s Duty To Account Arise Under Federal Law?

This Note discusses both the source of the accounting rule and the proper forum for applying the rule. Part I provides a general history of joint ownership and the duty to account and suggests that the number of litigants presenting joint ownership claims will probably increase. Part II discusses joint ownership case law chronologically. This Part shows that the case law is consistent with the view that the duty to account was a creation of the federal courts. Part III argues that the accounting rule is federal common law and that federal jurisdiction necessarily follows for all copyright accounting cases. But even if the courts hold that the duty to account is state law, this Part argues that jurisdiction does not always lie in the state courts. Federal courts should exercise jurisdiction over actions in which the plaintiff pleads copyright ownership by virtue of joint authorship.