Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Article: Dead-Hand Guidance: A Preferable Testamentary Approach for Artists

Eva E. Subotnik recently published an article entitled, Dead-Hand Guidance: A Preferable Testamentary Approach for Artists, St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper, 2022. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Postmortem copyrights in the United States allow for the control of art long after the artist has died. Successors to these interests, and even the public generally, may have bona fide reasons to encourage visual artists to be specific and comprehensive about the ways in which artwork is to be reproduced and used after the artists’ deaths. Nevertheless, this chapter cautions that efforts to encourage visual artists to provide guidance should simultaneously discourage any attempts to make these instructions binding. First, it is not clear that purportedly binding testamentary instructions about these matters will be effective. Second, the proliferation of such instructions may run counter to the goals of copyright law, raising the question of whether they should be effective. In short, in these matters, dead-hand guidance is preferable to dead-hand control.


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