Friday, September 15, 2017
A planner’s failure to fully understand and track copyright termination rights can lead to severe repercussions for both client and planner alike. When discussing this subject with clients, planners should ask clients about whether they, a spouse, or close family members have owned or own any copyrights, if their client has registered, sold, assigned, or purchased a copyright, and if the client has any heirs that they would like to disinherit. At a bare minimum, planners must make sure their clients are cognizant of their termination rights and should help the client plan around these rights. This discussion should consider the statutory forced heirship mechanisms and its preference for testamentary transfers made solely through a will. For planners working with commercially successful clients wanting to leave a bequest of their copyrighted works to their private foundation, it is of the utmost import to make sure to explicitly identify these rights so they pass to the foundation and not through the residuary clause. A planner’s failure to discuss these issues and address them with clients can open up the potential for staggering lawsuits.
See Michael L. Duffy, Planning and Administering Copyrights in an Artist’s Estate, Probate and Property Magazine, October 2017.