The music industry used to be different. Music companies practically owned songwriters and artists, and if they wanted to make a career in the industry, they had to sacrifice the rights to their music. After years of giving their lives to these companies, many songwriters and artists across the country, including many here in New York, may want to get back the rights to their music. Fortunately, copyright law may help in that regard.
If you signed away the rights to your work prior to 1978, you may have the chance to get them back. There is a chance you could terminate, or cancel, the assignments you made prior to that year, which is when significant changes were made to the law. This option represents a kind of “workaround” for those who did not benefit from the changes.
However, you must follow certain requirements in order to take advantage of the option to terminate a copyright assignment. In addition to filing a notice, you must meet certain deadlines and other timing requirements, along with other filings as needed. As you can imagine, the law strictly adheres to these criteria. One of the most important factors is the timing in which you must begin your claim.
If you fail to adhere to the timing requirements under the Copyright Act of 1976, which became effective Jan. 1, 1978 and is the primary basis for copyright law in the United States, you could lose your rights to your work forever. Moreover, failing to meet any of the other requirements could have the same results. To increase the chances of getting back the rights to your works signed over prior to 1978, you may find working with a copyright law attorney invaluable.