Copyright protection In the United States subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
On 15 May 1993 Ellen Crystall and Bruce Cornet entered into a written agreement of co-authorship for her sequel to the book, Silent Invasion. This unnotorized agreement establishes the existence by that date of a working relationship between Crystall and Cornet in collecting new data for joint use in a proposed book or publication. It is normal and customary for two co-authors to have their names on the front cover of the book, but soon after Cornet signed the agreement, Crystall told Cornet that his name would not appear on the front cover of that book. He would only get acknowledgment for the chapters he contributed, which is highly irregular and unethical, since this stipulation was not made clear prior to the signing of that agreement nor was it specified in the agreement that his name would be excluded from the front cover. Between June 1992 (when Cornet first became involved with Crystall) and 15 May 1993, Cornet and Crystall had a verbal agreement to share all data collected jointly, with no restrictions on disclosure. Only after significant data were collected by Cornet and Crystall did Crystall want to restrict and limit Cornet's options through a joint book deal. Cornet would not have worked with Crystall without the verbal co-ownership agreement, because in any scientific investigation all data collected must be available for study, analysis, and publication. The exclusion of any data by one party could invalidate the results of any scientific research by the other party. Any act of exclusion or restriction is here considered to be a hostile one. Proof of the existence of a verbal co-ownership agreement is the possession by Crystall of copies of photographs taken by Cornet (corroborated by dated letters and postmarked envelopes of correspondence), and the possession by Cornet of copies of videotapes taken by Crystall.
Under copyright law in the United States, "The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary." In this case, there is no agreement to the contrary, and Cornet considers all photographs, videotapes, and data collected either by Crystall or by Cornet when working together in the field, or exchanged and shared under the verbal agreement, to be jointly owned by Cornet and Crystall, despite what Crystall claims. The 15 May 1993 book agreement provides only a loose time frame for what data, pictures, and videotapes are included and excluded, with the only specific date mentioned being the date of the agreement. An open-ended or unconstrained contract such as this, with no limitation on the length of time it should take to complete the book or manuscript, is not legally enforceable before or after any constraining terms or dates indicated therein. Because 1) there is no time frame specified other than from 15 May 1993 until the completion of the book, because 2) the only materials and data to be included in the book are those chosen by Crystall, and because 3) the last time Crystall and Cornet shared data collected together in the field was on 10 May 1994 during the Japanese television crew shoot at Pine Bush, the time frame of the contract is constrained by the date of the agreement, and the last time Crystall and Cornet worked together and shared data. Therefore any data, photographs, and videotapes collected and shared prior to or following the period beginning 15 May 1993 and ending 10 May 1994 must be excluded, even in the most liberal interpretation of the contract. Such an exclusion is possible and necessary considering the inherent inadequacies in the contract, as well as the misleading or false claims made by Crystall.
Any materials or data collected independently before, during, and after this period are hereby considered also excluded from the terms of the written agreement if both parties were not present and working together. This interpretation preserves Crystall's right of exclusivity to materials and data she collected alone or without Cornet's presence, and Cornet's exclusivity to materials and data collected alone or without Crystall's presence. This includes the 20 square mile magnetic data base, discovery of magnetic anomalies, and maps which he generated, all work done without the presence or help of Crystall. She refused to help collect those data, even though she wanted the results of his geologic survey put in her book. That data base with maps took three years to complete, and has a commercial value of over $60,000 towards which Crystall has offered nothing or paid nothing.
After May 1994 Crystall stopped working with Cornet in the field, and later in that year would not return his phone calls after he left messages (phone records). Because of her self-imposed restriction, Cornet, not Crystall, was invited to give a talk on the Pine Bush UFO phenomenon at the April 1995, Seventh Annual Ozark UFO Conference in Arkansas. Neither Cornet nor Farrish, the director of the conference, could reach Crystall. In that talk Cornet more than adequately acknowledged Crystall's contributions (available on commercial tape). Because of that talk, Crystall considers Cornet to be in breach of their agreement. Because of that talk, any possibility for a reasonable working relationship between Crystall and Cornet ceased to exist according to letters she wrote to Farrish, because Crystall was not the chosen speaker. Afterwards, she no longer wanted to acknowledge Cornet or his many contributions to their joint project. She even claimed to be the only person doing legitimate research in Pine Bush, because she was there first and had written a book (e.g. letter she wrote to, published in, and rebutted by editor of S.P.A.C.E. newsletter of Rhinebeck, NY, July 1997, vol. 6, no. 2, issue #57). Making such an all inclusive statement was certainly not wise if Crystall still entertained using contributions by Cornet in any book sequel. Crystall never called Cornet to resolve their differences, wrote him a letter in which she made absurd claims and demands, never responded to and addressed his fair and equitable counter offer, made libelous statements about Cornet in letters to other people involved in the UFO field (the worst of which was when Crystall stated in a hand written and signed letter to Farrish that Cornet is a psycho and pathological liar), called friends of Cornet in an attempt to damage his reputation, and retained a lawyer in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent Cornet from using any co-owned material and from conducting any further investigations in the Pine Bush area. Crystall's territorial viewpoint and desire for exclusivity are not held by Cornet, nor by any other investigators in the area, who freely acknowledge Crystall's contributions. With individuals like Crystall involved in the UFO field of investigation, acts of disinformation, debunking, and intimidation by alleged employees of the CIA and U.S. government pale by comparison.
Enough is Enough!
Because "The Performance" occurred before the date of the joint book proposal, because the data collected on 28 and 29 April 1993 are not specified or covered by any time frame indicated in the 15 May 1993 written agreement, and because, most importantly, Sightings, Inc. recorded and publicly aired portions of this performance on television in May 1993, Cornet does not require Crystall's permission to talk about or reveal any shared and co-owned data collected before the date of that agreement. Furthermore, Cornet considers the joint book agreement to be no longer viable or operational, and it is therefore considered unenforceable. In any dispute or contest, there are two opposing sides. Cornet considers that Crystall beached the purpose and intent of the joint book agreement for the following reasons (listed in increasing importance):
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