Tickticktick… CopyrightBOMB

Wired did an interesting piece about a little fact in copyright law. Well, little known as of now. There is sure to be a flurry of activity both before and after certain deadlines pass.

The Copyright Act includes two sets of rules for how this works. If an artist or author sold a copyright before 1978 (Section 304), they or their heirs can take it back 56 years later. If the artist or author sold the copyright during or after 1978 (Section 203), they can terminate that grant after 35 years. Assuming all the proper paperwork gets done in time, record labels could lose sound recording copyrights they bought in 1978 starting in 2013, 1979 in 2014, and so on. For 1953-and-earlier music, grants can already be terminated.

When copyright law came before Congress in 1998, there was one small company that persuaded the government to extend the terms. Mickey Mouse and his friends were about to become public domain.

Probably one of the easiest to read authors on the subject that makes legalese like this digestible to my feeble mind is attorney Christopher Cabott. I have said for years that his contribution to our magazine with his Law Library column is one of the best written and most often complimented sections of the book.