A fall cavalcade of stars ending copyrights

August 21st, 2011 by Craig Matsuda

It’s a legendary tune associated with Yves Montand, Johnny Mercer, Edith Piaf and Nat King Cole, and already this fall, “Autumn Leaves” may be on its way to becoming the de facto anthem of many famed contemporary performers: That’s because as autumn descends, many stars hope they’ll be shedding their ennui and regret and attempting to leave longstanding agreements with their recording labels and terminating or recapturing copyrights to their works. It’s a phenomenon connected with a congressional rewrite of copyright statutes and it’s attracted a recent surge of public attention, and, in the blogosphere, experts hasten to note that this legal move also may affect some literary properties.

For those who haven’t followed the issue, Biederman blog editor Rosalind Read earlier this year conducted a Q-and-A with a Southwestern alum involved in these copyright matters, offering a primer on the topic. New York Times reporter Larry Rohter provided not just one but two recent stories on how copyright termination might come into play for not only superstars like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers, the Eagles and Funkadelic but also how intricacies and interpretations of the law may affect celebrities like Victor Willis, he being the military-garbed lead-singer of the assembled “Village People” troupe with the disco-era hits including “Y.M.C.A.”¬†As THR Esq notes in a recent post, phrases such as “work made for hire” and combat over exactly who creates a work of art and is entitled to its copyright all may be up for legal grabs as artists get a replay opportunity regarding copyrights.

Over at the Copylaw blog, Lloyd J. Jassin offers up his own take of copyright termination or recapture, adding the intriguing element as to how the issue also might affect authors like Steven King, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum and the heirs to the estates of James Michener and Erma Bombeck.

Sounds as if entertainment law practitioners will be keeping plenty busy with all this…

 

 

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