The 35 Year Reversion Clause

2548 Words11 Pages
Joseph Burleson
Prof. P. Abril
BSL 412

The 35 Year Reversion Clause

As 2013 began, artists and songwriters of classic music gained the ability to terminate transfer of copyright ownership for their intellectual property. These so called legacy artists include Tom Petty, Bryan, Adams, Bob Dylan, and countless others whose music still have a profound impact on the industry. In fact, catalog sales of legacy artists were reported by music industry officials as comprising 49% of album sales and 55% of single sales as recently as 2012. This means that billions of dollars are on the line for record labels, music publishers, and musicians.


Once an author independently creates a work, copyright ownership is immediately
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Transfer of copyright is referred to in section 101 of the Copyright Act of 1976 as “an assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation, or hypothecation of a copyright or of any of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect but not including a non exclusive license.” Songwriters will give away ownership to the copyright of their compositions to music publishers while recording artists will grant copyright ownership of their records to their respective labels enabling the companies to receive a larger stream of royalties. The size of this stream depends on the deal signed.

Royalties for sound recordings are paid out on a purely contractual basis. There is no statutory rate for sound recording royalties like there is for song royalties. However, the artist negotiates a percentage of the profits from the sale of mechanical sound recordings. This usually numbers around 8%-25% of the suggested retail pricing for the album or song depending on the quality of the recordings and the stature of the artist. More established artists are able to negotiate into the high spectrum because there is less risk involved for the record label.

Royalties for songs are paid out 50% to the writer and 50% to the copyright holder. For music publishing companies, there are three main types of deals that an artist can enter
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