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Copyright Termination – Heirs Can Recapture Rights Previously Assigned

Under the 1976 Copyright Act, authors who license or assign their copyrights have the right to unilaterally terminate such agreements thirty-five years later. This right is also retained by heirs. This termination right may be exercised without consideration. The first set of copyright assignments governed by the 1976 Copyright Act become eligible for termination on January 1, 2013. As a result, a looming crisis over termination rights is on the horizon. As long as the work is not a “work made for hire,” the right of termination cannot be waived — even if there are contractual provisions to the contrary. If your business relies upon rights made prior to 1978 you should have a copyright attorney carefully review your rights and determine if you will be impacted by termination.

Written by
Dan Cotman
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