Vol. LIII No. 5

Defeating the Terminator: How Remastered Albums May Help Record Companies Avoid Copyright Termination

Abstract: Starting in 2013, copyright owners can begin terminating copyright grants made thirty-five years earlier. In the music industry, this termination right could harm the profits of record companies, which rely on valuable older recordings to drive profits. But all is not lost for these record companies, as termination is not guaranteed. Congress excluded certain types of work from termination, including derivative works. After outlining the standards courts use to determine what constitutes a derivative work and how remastered albums are made, this Note analyzes whether remastered albums will be considered derivative works and thus not subject to termination. The Note concludes that, generally, remastered albums should be considered derivative works. Finally, the Note argues that allowing record companies to continue to utilize these remastered recordings furthers the legislative purposes of both the termination provision and the derivative works exception.

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