Saturday, July 11, 2020

Listen Today: CLE - Lessons from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath: Copyright Terminations Under Sections 203 and 304 of the Copyright Act

On September 29, 2020, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not to grant certiorari in Steinbeck v. Kaffaga, a case involving the rights of authors and their heirs to terminate copyright grants.  Copyright terminations have generated a tremendous amount of litigation and uncertainty, this is a case to watch!

To listen or download this one-hour CLE program featuring Copyright Litigation Handbook author Ray Dowd, visit CELESQ here.

 In 1976 and 1998 Congress extended the terms of copyright. Congress intended for authors to receive the full economic benefit of the extended copyright terms by granting authors and their heirs inalienable rights to recapture copyrights. These recaptured copyrights, vesting free of all prior grants, could then be re-licensed on economic terms favorable to authors. To protect authors’ families from disinheritances, late-life lovers or squabbles among over-reaching heirs, Congress preempted state inheritance law and created statutory heirs.

Congress’ statutory scheme benefiting authors and their families has been threatened by recent decisions of the Second and Ninth Circuits that have generated a recent cert petition to the Supreme Court in Steinbeck v. Kaffaga over film rights to The Grapes of Wrath. Many copyright termination disputes are now pending.

Ray Dowd in examines this fascinating case and discusses why understanding the issues at stake and the mechanics of copyright terminations is important for all attorneys dealing with copyrights. Whether you are negotiating a license agreement or advising copyright owners and their heirs on estate planning, copyright termination is a hot issue.

Raymond J. Dowd authored a brief in Steinbeck v. Kaffaga on behalf of amicus curiae the Authors Guild, the Dramatists Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and former Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman.

 Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. Attorney and Author

Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2018-2019) by Raymond J. Dowd

 Copyright Litigation Handbook on Westlaw

Friday, May 01, 2020

Copyright Terminations: Amicus Brief For Authors Guild et al. In Dispute Over Film Rights To John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath

On April 29, 2020, we filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of The Authors Guild, The Dramatists Guild, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, and former Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman at the United States Supreme Court.  The case involves a dispute among John Steinbeck’s heirs over who should benefit from copyright termination rights under Sections 203 and 304 of the Copyright Act.  The brief argues that a number of federal courts have misinterpreted provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 that permitted authors to terminate copyright grants and to recapture the copyrights for the periods of time that Congress extended the copyrights.   According to the brief, Congress intended to benefit authors and their heirs when Congress extended copyright terms in 1976 and again in 1998.  Amici curiae argue that the federal courts have frustrated Congressional intent by upholding prior copyright grants that the plain language of the Copyright Act permits authors to invalidate.   Check out the brief here.
 Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. Attorney and AuthorCopyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters Westlaw 2019-2020) by Raymond J. Dowd
 Copyright Litigation Handbook on Westlaw