Do you work with copyrights? If so, do not forget about an author’s rights to terminate transfers and licenses.
The copyright act provides the authors of transferred or licensed works the opportunity to recapture his or her rights. This means that after waiting a specific period of time, an author, or an author’s estate, can terminate a prior transfer or license. Such terminations can have a dramatic impact on a company’s rights to use certain intellectual property or the rights to revenue from certain copyrighted works. Terminating transfers and licenses also gives authors an opportunity to make additional revenue by retransferring or relicensing their work.
The rules surrounding the terminations of transfers and licenses are quite complicated, and the opportunity to recapture one’s rights is only available for a limited period of time. A new window is opening in 2013 for the recapture of works subject to post-1978 grants. For works transferred or licensed after 1978, the five-year termination period can begin at one of three times: (1) the end of thirty-five years from the date of execution of the grant; (2) thirty-five years from the date of publication of the work; or (3) forty years from the date of the execution of the grant.
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If you are an author, assignee, or licensee of a work that may soon enter a termination window and have questions, feel free to contact our experienced patent, trademark, and copyright attorneys here at Woodard, Emhardt, Moriarty, McNett & Henry LLP.