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Copyright Law Explained

Terminate Copyright Transfers

All licenses or transfers (e.g., assignments) of copyrights executed by the creator of a copyrighted work on or after January 1, 1978 may be terminated by the creator who signed the agreement or his or her heirs regardless of the terms of the agreement. This provision in the copyright law is commonly referred to as termination rights. This right can only be exercised during a five-year window that opens on thirty-fifth year after the agreement took effect. (Similarly, all licenses or transfers executed by creators or certain of the creator’s heirs prior to January 1, 1978 covering copyrights secured before that date also are terminable but the window for doing so is at the end of the fifty sixth year after the copyright was secured.)

The reason this provision is included in the copyright law is because Congress wanted to give creators and their heirs a second opportunity to make money from their efforts because they are often forced to sell their works before the actual worth of the works is established.

Learn more about how to terminate copyright transfers, and copyright laws in general by joining the alliance—it’s free.