Professor Bogdan’s paper, The Little Law that Could (and Probably Will): Section 203 Copyright Recapture Terminations in America, features a little known provision in U.S. law that may soon be causing considerable disruption for industries that rely on copyright-protected works of authorship for revenue generation, including the arts and entertainment industries.
That provision, a part of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (more specifically, 17 U.S.C. § 203), provides that authors have the right to terminate transfers and reclaim ownership of their works of authorship during a five-year window of time starting on the 35th anniversary of the execution of any license or conveyance. As such, it is a right that could potentially leave record labels, book publishers, and movie studios with a steadily eroding ownership interest in their most valuable moneymaking assets.
Professor Bogdan’s paper focuses on: (1) a premise that the number of Section 203 recapture termination notices recorded with the U.S. Copyright Office to date is quantitatively small, as compared to the potential number that could have been recorded by now; (2) the proposition that, since it has been over 12 years since the first opportunity anyone had to record such a notice, there should have been more activity in this area by now; (3) a discussion of several possible reasons why we have not seen more termination recapture activity; and (4) a view of the future, and an analysis as to whether recapture termination activity will increase and why. Authors of all types, the business people who represent them, and the educators who are teaching the next generation of both groups should all take notice of the law and the potential benefit it provides to authors. The recapture termination right lasts only for a limited time – a window of five years on any given work of authorship. This means that each day starting with January 1, 2018 (the 40 year anniversary of the effective date of the Copyright Act of 1976), the window will shut on another group of works for the authors thereof, whose inalienable right to recapture termination will be lost forever.
Assistant professor Bogdan teaches courses relating to entertainment law and the live and performing arts in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department.