Notices of Termination

The Copyright Act permits authors or their heirs, under certain circumstances, to terminate the exclusive or nonexclusive grant of a transfer or license of an author’s copyright in a work or of any right under a copyright. These termination provisions are set forth in 17 U.S.C. §§ 203, 304(c), and 304(d), with the applicable provision depending on a number of factors, including when the grant was made, who executed it, and when copyright was originally secured for the work. These provisions are intended to protect authors and their heirs against unremunerative agreements by giving them an opportunity to share in the later economic success of their works by allowing authors or their heirs, during particular periods of time long after the original grant, to regain the previously granted copyright or copyright rights. Note that grants made via a will or involving a work made for hire may not be terminated under these provisions (for more information about works made for hire, refer to Circular 9).

To terminate a grant, a written, signed notice of termination must be served on the relevant grantee (i.e., the individual or entity that received the grant that is being terminated) or the grantee’s successor-in-interest and a copy of the as-served notice must be properly recorded with the Copyright Office. For more information about notices of termination, including their required form and content, see 17 U.S.C. §§ 203, 304(c), or 304(d) as applicable, 37 C.F.R. § 201.10, and the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices (Chapter 2300: Recordation).