Getting a Second Bite of the Apple: Termination of Transfers of Copyright

Copyright protection under current U.S. law lasts for a very long time. Generally, the term of protection is for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. In the case of “works made for hire” – meaning works created by employees in the scope of their employment or certain works specially commissioned by independent contractors – copyright protection can be even longer. Despite this long term of protection, and despite clearly drafted provisions in license agreements and other contracts that transfer or assign rights for “the full term of copyright protection, including any renewals and extensions,” many agreements can be terminated after only 35 years.

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