Termination of a Copyright Transfer

Under certain circumstances, the Copyright Act allows authors or their heirs to terminate an agreement that transferred or licensed the author’s copyright to a third party after thirty-five years. To terminate a grant, the author or the author’s heirs must serve an advance written “notice of termination” on the grantee or the grantee’s successor-in-interest and must record a copy of that notice with the Copyright Office and pay the required filing fee.

A notice of termination must be recorded before the effective date of termination specified in the notice. If a notice of termination is not recorded in a timely manner, the notice will be invalid, and the author or the author’s heirs will not be able to terminate the agreement. For more information, see chapter 2300, section 2310 of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices.

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