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Right, you had a question. Actually, you have two questions: (1) Can they modify your work without your permission, and (2) Who is the copyright owner of the work? The first question is tied to the second because if you owned the copyright, any unauthorized modifications would be considered an infringement (unless excused as a fair use). As to the second question -- you own copyright unless the work is considered a work made for hire (and we think the Supreme Court addressed your main question).
CCNV v. Reid. In this 1989 case, the Community for Creative Non-Violence ("CCNV"), a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating homelessness, decided to create a float for the Washington D.C. Christmas Pageant. One director conceived of the idea of a statue as an analogy to the nativity scene with a homeless family huddled over a steam grate. The CCNV hired a sculptor named Reid. After compromising on the material to be used, Reid prepared a sketch. The CCNV requested some changes. Reid agreed to create the statue and received a $3,000 advance. The CCNV constructed the steam grate portion of the exhibit. Reid delivered the statue and was paid a final payment of $15,000. After the pageant and a month on display, the CCNV wanted to take the statue to other cities. Reid, who now had possession of the sculpture, objected claiming that the statue was too fragile. Reid wanted to take the statue on a less demanding exhibit tour. Both parties claimed copyright in the work. The Supreme Court held that the sculpture was not a work made for hire because Reid was not an employee, as defined under law.
Proving you're an IC. To determine employee or independent contractor status the Supreme Court stated that the following factors are weighed:
- the skill required in the particular occupation;
- whether the employer or the worker supplies the instrumentalities and tools of the trade;
- the location of the work;
- the length of time for which the person is employed;
- whether the hiring party has the right to assign additional work projects to the hired party;
- the extent of the hired party's discretion over when and how long to work;
- the method of payment;
- the hired party's role in hiring and paying assistants;
- whether the work is part of the regular business of the hiring party;
- whether the hiring party is in business;
- the provision of employee benefits; and
- the tax treatment of the hired party.
Joint authorship? In the CCNV case, the CCNV did some supervision of Reid and contributed a portion of the work (the steam grate.) A lower court later determined that the sculpture was a work of joint authorship -- that is, the parties had the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. We don't think you will have the same outcome, especially if you conceived of the artwork and prepared the initial work by yourself. However, because you're considering doing battle with the nonprofit, you should consult a copyright attorney in your area to get an opinion from someone who's privy to the work and the facts.