Artists and creators are struggling to effectively use their termination right to achieve their personal and professional goals. They typically sign contracts with companies that help fund, develop, market, and distribute their work early in their careers -- sometimes without legal advice. Many find themselves locked in to unfavorable deals that they can’t escape for decades -- if ever.
Congress designed a “termination right” to help artists reclaim their rights or to negotiate more favorable deals as their careers bloomed. It is a powerful right that cannot be given away, not even by contract. Enabling creators to exercise what’s supposed to be an inalienable right helps them take creative control of their work and their careers.
Unfortunately, numerous problems -- from legal cost and complexity and imbalances of power to scarce public information -- are combining to create dysfunction in the system, which appears to be preventing artists from effectively using their termination right.
The time has come for Congress to take action by directing the Copyright Office to conduct a formal study of the termination right and to find out how artists are able (or not) to exercise this important right. Only by shining a light on a problem that is often hidden away from public view can we determine how best to fix the system. This will help artists take control of their creative futures, support themselves and their families, and create new and original works that benefit us all.