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Termination rights: music to artists' ears

EaglesDVDHenleyc The rights of artists to terminate copyright grants has received a lot of recent attention in the wake of news that the estate of comic book legend Jack Kirby sent 45 notices of termination to Hollywood studios in an attempt to wrest control of such iconic superheroes as Spider-Man, Hulk and X-Men.

In our new article for IP Law & Business magazine, we explain why an artist's right to terminate a copyright grant after a set period poses a significant, looming issue for the music industry too. In fact, we don't think we're overstating things by saying this issue could cripple the record business as we know it.

The article reveals that a termination notice was recently sent to Universal Music Group on the 1980 disco hit "Funkytown."

In addition, THR power lawyer Lee Phillips is vowing to send termination notices on behalf of his own superstar clients by the end of the year. Phillips represents Barbara Streisand, Brian Wilson, and the Eagles among others.

By 2013, artists will be able to effectuate their termination notices, but thanks to quirks in copyright law, the window to send notices on songs made between 1978 and 1984 will be closing soon. Ten years ago, the RIAA lead a move to change copyright law to buttress a "work for hire" court defense to these termination notices, but the industry was successfully pushed back by artists lead by Sheryl Crow and Eagles front-man Don Henley.

The rest of the story, and what the RIAA thinks is going to happen, can be read here.