On Thursday, March 23rd I presented a Lunch & Learn at the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property.
I covered 203 copyright transfer termination rights mechanics, the post-2013 response of copyright creators and copyright-industries when the first termination “window” opened for post-1977 transfers, and stakeholder and commentator forecasts about whether the anticipated termination tidal wave of destruction is more academic than real.
Copyright transfer termination permits a copyright creator to reclaim control of his or her copyright several decades after transferring the right. This applies to all copyright transfers no matter what a contract may say about a perpetual transfer. Creators cannot waive this right. But they can forfeit it if they are not careful.
In fact, some creators have already forfeited their rights if they transferred copyright in 1978 and failed to serve notice of termination by 2016.
I offered some preliminary conclusions on the future of copyright-dependent industries in light of the 203 termination right.
Watch, listen and learn!
I am thrilled to announce that I will join the tenured faculty of The University of New Hampshire School of Law this fall as a Full Professor.
UNH Law, formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center, is a leader in intellectual property law, social justice, sports law, and innovative practical preparation and is ranked 82nd by US News & World Report. It is also home to the preeminent Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property (FPCIP) and the UNH Sports and Entertainment Law Institute (SELI).
I look forward to serving as an integral part of both FPCIP and SELI, and I will also continue my work in the areas of Trusts & Estates and Inclusion & Equity.
I am excited to announce that my hiring class includes Ryan Vacca. He is the David L. Brennan Professor of Law at The University of Akron School of Law, where he also serves as the Interim Co-Dean and Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Technology.
My departure from Widener Law Commonwealth is bittersweet; I have loved my time here! WLC has been a tremendous place to evolve as an educator and scholar in the legal academy while surrounded by wonderful, supportive colleagues and inspired by fantastic students (whom I will miss most of all!). Thank you for the well wishes I’ve already received.
Article Alert: Statutory Heirs Apparent explores copyright termination right succession in the entertainment industry
My latest article, Statutory Heirs Apparent: Reclaiming Copyright in the Age of Author-Controlled, Author-Benefiting Transfers (119 W. Va. L. Rev 297 (2016)), explores the intersectionality of estate succession laws and copyright and the unintended conflict between a deceased author’s testamentary freedom and the right of the decedent’s statutory heirs to terminate the decedent author’s lifetime transfers.
A number of notable songwriters have successfully reclaimed control over their copyrights from recording companies: Bruce Springstein, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty, and an original “Village People” member, Victor Willis, for that perennial Karaoke favorite “YMCA”. They all lived long enough to see the copyright termination window open for their respective rights.
However, some authors are not so fortunate.
Case in point: The Ninth Circuit recently heard Ray Charles Foundation v. Robinson, 795 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2015). That case presents facts analogous to the problem the proposed amendment seeks to resolve; that is, when a statutory heir asserts a termination interest clearly contrary to the decedent author’s wishes.
In that case, Charles named his private charitable foundation as sole heir of his rights and recipient of his royalties during his life and thereafter. In fact, the Foundation is totally funded by the royalties and is prohibited from receiving any other means of support. Separately, he negotiated with his children (all 12 of them) to waive any right to his estate in exchange for half million dollars into an irrevocable trust for each. He died before the termination window opened. The perfect storm. Read more…
Media Alert: SmartTalk Feb. 1 interview re: Black History Month event Nat’l Parks & America’s “Untold Stories”
In honor of Black History Month, on February 8th, Widener Law Commonwealth will host “National Parks & America’s Untold Stories”, led by Alan Spears, Director of Cultural Resources at the National Parks Conservation Association. This event is sponsored by WLC, Black Law Students Association (BLSA), and the Environmental Law and Sustainability Center.
Mr. Spears will explore why maintaining an inclusive and relevant National Park System is critically important to the future of our parks. He will share stories of African American history in our national parks and how National Parks Conservation Association is advocating to create and maintain a park system that reflects all of America. I will discuss the broader role of African-American history as American History.
In anticipation of this event, on February 1, 2017 9:00 AM-10:00 AM ET, Mr. Spears and I will do a SmartTalk WITF segment to discuss the event and some of the untold stories he will share at the event.
Perhaps it’s surprising that Pastor Shirley Caesar never registered her name as a source-indicating mark before now. Thankfully, trademark rights attach even to unregistered marks [NOLO.com] used in connection with sale of goods or, in her case, entertainment services as a world-renowned gospel recording artist.
And now after the “U Name It” Challenge [BET.com w/ sound] became a thing and gave new meaning to the phrase “going viral” recently, Caesar and her legal team realized that securing trademark rights in her name is as important as protecting her copyright interests.
About the “You Name It” Viral Clip
The video clip making viral rounds on social media is an excerpt from a live performance of “Hold My Mule.” The legendary gospel sermon has been edited to revolve around Caesar’s chant, “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes,” in response to the question, “Grandma, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?” – BET.com