Creators of all kinds routinely transfer rights to their works (by signing publication contracts that assign copyright to their publishers, for example). While many of these agreements last “for the life of copyright”, the law takes into account that these terms can ultimately be unfair to authors and artists. This is where “termination of transfers” come in.

In the United States, termination of transfers laws enable authors to regain rights in their works that might have been signed away—even if their contracts contain language to the contrary. Many authors use terminations because their works are tremendously successful, and they want to recapture rights to enjoy more of their work’s financial success. But other authors may find that their works are no longer as available as they might wish. For these authors who want their works to be widely shared and enjoyed—who want to take advantage of a vibrant internet that might not have existed when they signed that contract all those years ago—termination of transfers is a powerful option for getting their works back out in front of audiences. However, the statute requires that authors wait at least 35 years to exercise this right (and serve notice between two and ten years in advance), and the law is far from simple.

Our termination of transfers resources are designed to help you understand the complex termination of transfer provisions and how to evaluate whether and when a work might be eligible for termination, and if a work is eligible, exercise your termination rights.

  • Try out our Termination of Transfer Tool, developed by Authors Alliance and Creative Commons, to learn more about termination of transfer and how to evaluate whether a work is eligible for termination.
  • Use Authors Alliance’s guidance and templates for providing notice of termination to rightsholders and recording the termination with the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • Check out our Termination of Transfer FAQs.
  • View a demo video of the beta version of the Termination of Transfer Tool.
  • Dive deeper into termination of transfer with our blog series on termination.
  • Learn how to track down digital copies of terminated works to take advantages of online publishing options and reach wider audiences.
  • Visit our Rights Reversion page to explore another option for regaining rights to previously published works.
  • Contact us at info@rightsback.org with questions or to share your termination of transfer success story.
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