The Hollywood Reporter recently published an article by Eriq Gardner titled " Real-Life Terminator": The Big Studios Face a Dramatic Loss of Iconic Film Rights in the Eighties certainly an attention-grabbing headline. Some of the franchise properties mentioned in Gardner's article are – without exaggeration – worth billions of dollars for the studios.
Money has the attribute of having things happen in copyright law. To put it bluntly, the creators of the original works that underlie these classic films today make use of a relatively little-known (and poorly understood) aspect of US copyright law called "termination of transfers." the studios you sold them to a long time ago (and maybe sell them again, either to the same studios or to someone else).
Before we go into more detail about these particular movie dances, let's look a bit and look at the larger context of the two sections on the termination of Title 1
In a short blog post, there is no way to replace a full investigation of this topic, but I will provide a few helpful links along the way for readers who may wish to  plunge  into this pool.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Congress witnessed to creators, some of whom were well over 70 years old, about the difficulties in signing and signing contracts with the music studios with whom they worked "to regain their rights" copyright even if these studios did not currently exploit these works or received some of the money that these works had generated over the years.
In the years when they were still young artists, they simply tried to penetrate and make their music accessible to a larger audience, while perhaps also making an effort to put food in their mouths and put gasoline in their cars, to get to concerts that was put in front of them and took the money (no matter how small it was) to seal the deal.
In 1984, before any of the termination provisions could have occurred, the Rock'n Roll precursor of the 1950s Little Richard went into the file to address the problem and told a reporter Washington Post:
It's been a long time and I'm not the only person to owe that kind of money. Many blacks were exploited – including whites, but more blacks in the entertainment world, to record fees. Esther Phillips and Jackie Wilson and Joe Tex and Big Mama Thornton – some of these people could not be buried, they had no money, they could not even be buried in a $ 200 coffin and they sold millions of dollars. Records worth of and got no money.
The legislative result, which came into force in 1978, was sections 203 and 304 (c) of the United States Copyright Law. Establish legal procedures for the "termination of transfers". Section 203 deals with the newer works (published since 1978), while 304 deals with those from earlier times with slightly different procedures.
As Krista Cox points out, she writes on this point About the Law :
Notice of termination can be given at the earliest 25 years after the grant has been paid (or 30 years if the grant covers the right of publication, or 25 years after publication under the grant). whatever comes earlier). However, the termination does not immediately trigger a termination, which will take effect 35 years after the grant has been paid (or 40 years / 35 years under the circumstances mentioned above). The notice must comply with the provisions of the Copyright Office.
Also keep in mind that "the earliest date of termination of a grant that an author has made on January 1, 1978, [was] on January 1, 1978, 2013." The post on this site, by The law firm Alter, Kendrick and Baron hosted, contains some very helpful tables explaining the windows for the maintenance notice (with the intention to terminate) as well as the "return date" (if successful) terminations take effect).
In any case, the goal of the congress was to give a creator (or her heirs) the opportunity to use the enduring value of older works (especially in some cases where the value of older works is high) later works by the same creator, when she was successful enough not to have to make any more deals, giving the Creator a lever in dealing with the studio, which now holds the rights.
The results of this process announcements are of course uncertain. As it often turns out, agreements can come to fruition before problems arise which have to be resolved by a court. Or a court may decide a preliminary matter and lay the groundwork for an agreement that will make a further trial before a judge redundant.
For example, in 2018, a question on the ownership status of the screenplay underlying Friday the 13th series was resolved by a court, at least in its early stages . in favor of the author; Even the local judge acknowledged that there were additional disputes between the parties, but no public indications were given of further proceedings.
Of course, the setting of the transmission method does not only apply to film properties. They apply to works that are subject to copyright throughout the entire spectrum. A few years ago, Paul McCartney agreed to denounce (by comparison) the rights currently held by the Sony Corporation to the original compositions in the early Beatles catalog.
The conditions of the settlement were, as so often, not disclosed. Similarly, Victor Willis, a composer of the disco band The Village People, won his dismissal of 2015 . With luck, a good lawyer and the facts on your side, it is possible that a creator can prevail against the labels or the studios. That does not mean it will be easy.
Richard Jefferson, a lawyer writing on music rights at Lawyersrock.com, provides an excellent overview of the pros and cons of dismissals (mostly) in the context of music, but generally applicable). Creators who want to use this process should obviously turn to a copyright lawyer. A good, newer book to be consulted in the meantime could be Notice of the Termination of Copyright Rights by independent author Julien Coallier (2018).
Released on November 9, 2019 – 17:00 UTC