Sound Recordings, Works for Hire, and the Termination-of-Transfers Time Bomb
Author(s): Peter S. Menell
Abstract: In crafting the Copyright Act of 1976, Congress brokered a grand compromise between authors and publishers so as to bring about a unitary term of protection. Authors obtained an inalienable right to terminate transfers 35 years after an assignment, subject to designated carve outs for nine categories of collaborative works that could become unmarketable following termination due to the transaction costs of reassembling the necessary rights. While motion pictures and encyclopedias made the list, sound recordings were not expressly covered – although they arguably fit into other designated categories. This Article traces the background to this dispute, which will likely take on great salience in 2013, when the first post-1976 works become eligible for termination.
Keywords: Copyright, Termination of Transfers, Work Made for Hire