Copyright Act of 1976 Allows Creators to Revoke Copyright Assignments and Again Take Ownership
Insight September 13, 2013
A writer (and performer) of the famous "YMCA" song has rocked the music industry by successfully reclaiming the copyrights in many of his works using little known provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976. These provisions allow creators to revoke copyright assignments and again take ownership of their works 35 years after assignment.
As more musicians, writers, other creators become aware of this opportunity to take a second bite of the apple, intense litigation over ownership of still-lucrative bodies of work are on the rise. Considering that copyrights protect not just songs and books but less obvious things like software, these provisions could have wide ranging effects. Creators (and their families) should review their works and consult someone familiar with the strict process for reclaiming rights, and those who own works by assignment should review their portfolios, consult someone familiar with ways to block reclamation efforts, and consider negotiating new agreements for works that are still economically viable.