Termination of Music Copyright Transfers: The Renegotiation Reality

By Kenneth Abdo, Timothy Matson, and Jacob Abdo

Published in Landslide Vol. 11 No.2, ©2018 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

The termination right creates a method for authors to recapture valuable copyrights in both musical compositions (songwriting) and sound recordings (recordings of performances of compositions).1 Congress created the termination right to safeguard authors against “unremunerative transfers . . . resulting in part from the impossibility of determining a work’s value until it has been exploited.”2 The termination right is absolute and inalienable.3 It empowers recording artists and songwriters to regain control of their works and either renegotiate agreements on more equitable terms or enter into new agreements.

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