Thursday, September 30, 2010

The copyright termination time bomb in 2011

Termination Deadline for 1978 Grants Just Around the Corner

"The copyright termination time bomb is ticking away. Starting in 2011 the publishing and entertainment industries will be looking at the possibility thousands of negotiations with copyright owners seeking to recapture their rights. Some call it "contract bumping." This powerful "re-valuation mechanism" found in the Copyright Act allows authors (and their heirs) to terminate contracts 35-years after the contract date. The termination right trumps written agreements -- even agreements which state they are in perpetuity. Also known as “termination” or “recapture” rights, the deadline for sending termination notices for 1978 grants will begin to expire in 2011.

"The impending economic dislocation will manifest itself in the loss of evergreen or backlist titles, as authors, or their heirs, exercise their right to terminate publishing agreements and recapture their copyrights. What is a threat to mainstream book publishers, is otherwise an opportunity for a cheaper, more flexible kind of book publishing. With the ability to recapture rights, access to indie distributors and print on demand technology, authors (and their heirs) will have to decide how much faith they should place in their existing publisher relationships. My guess is that "life of copyright" grants will soon become the exception, not the rule. This article explains why."


"The clock is ticking. On January 1, 2013, provided timely Termination Notices were sent (and recorded with the Copyright Office) grants made on January 1, 1978 will terminate. As a copyright owner, or copyright owner's heir, you must be vigilant. Failure to exercise these rights, or exercise them in a timely manner, can be fatal. And, if you delay filing your claim, you can be time-barred by the statute of limitations."

Check out the full blog article on Lloyd J. Jassin's Law Blog.

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