Next year, a time bomb embedded in the Copyright Act of 1976 starts to detonate, as valuable copyrights fall back into the hands of artists who decide that they would prefer to own their songs, rather than allowing their label and publisher to keep selling them… read more
A "second bite at the apple" for musicians and songwriters
FMC and Adam Holofcener
Thursday, February 16, 2012
The Right to Terminate: a Musicians’ Guide to Copyright Reversion[i]
Unlike most countries, the United States copyright law provides musicians and songwriters an opportunity to regain ownership of works that they transferred to outside entities, such as record labels and music publishers. Congress established this “second bite at the apple” for authors of creative works after a period of 35 years. “Termination of transfer” is not automatic, however, and there are certain steps creators must take to regain the rights to their works. This guide aims to shed more light on the process for the benefit of musicians and songwriters who are eligible to reclaim ownership of their creations. read more
Regular readers have probably seen us post about “termination rights,” which is a fancy way of saying that authors of copyrightable works — including musicians and songwriters — are eligible under federal law to have their rights return to them after a period of 35 years. Some of the companies to whom those copyrights were originally granted (like publishers and labels), aren’t keen to give them up. read more
[This post is by FMC legal intern Adam Holofcener]
Ready for your head to explode? Let’s talk copyright termination of transfer!
This is a topic that is incredibly complex but super-important to ensuring that musicians and other creators are able to regain control of their copyrights that they “transferred” to another entity (think labels and publishers) after a certain amount of time. Congress set the period after which these copyrights revert back to their authors, in the 1976 Copyright Act. Unfortunately, the law also includes some unintended head-scratchers. read more
Future of Music Coalition filed these comments with the Copyright Office in their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the “Gap in Termination Provisions” in the Copyright Act.
The Copyright Office released an analysis acknowledging the “gap” in the termination clause of the 1976 Copyright Act, which foreclosed individuals from dissolving grants made before Jan. 1, 1978 of copyrighted works not created until after that date. The comment also applauds the Copyright Office’s proposal to limit their new “gap” closing regulation, that grants will be read from the date of creation of the copyrighted work, to apply only to works that fell in the “gap.”
Future of Music Coalition filed these reply comments with the Copyright Office in their Notice of Public Inquiry on the “termination of transfer” of copyrights.
Under the 35-year reversion terms of the 1976 Copyright Act, copyrights made after Jan. 1, 1978 are eligible to once again become the creator’s property. The comments also address the so called “gap” in the termination clause, in which songs composed under exclusive songwriting aggrements with publishers may fall in between the 56-year termination provisions of the previous 1909 Act and the 35-year terms of its 1976 successor.
Notice of Public Inquiry; Reply Comments: 75 Fed Reg 15390 (3/29/10)
[A footnoted version of this document is available in PDF]
Future of Music Coalition (FMC) is a not-for-profit collaboration between members of the music, technology, public policy and intellectual property law communities. FMC seeks to educate the media, policymakers and the public about issues at the intersection of music, technology, policy and law while bringing together diverse voices in an effort to identify creative solutions to challenges in this space. Our work often concerns copyright issues and creators’ ability to exploit their intellectual property in an open marketplace. read more
Let's get out our time machine and set the coordinates for 2013. Why that date? Because that's when a lot of creators will see copyrights that they signed away in 1978 revert back to them.
This is a big deal for musicians and songwriters who decades ago assigned their rights to a label or a publisher. With their songs back under their control, artists could license them directly to TV and movies, re-release albums on their own imprints, or even re-transfer their stuff to a label or publisher in a more lucrative deal. read more