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Termination of Transfer Tool


Returning Author's Rights: The Authors Alliance/Creative Commons Termination of Transfer Tool

Welcome to the Authors Alliance/Creative Commons Termination of Transfer Tool. On this page we briefly explain what termination of transfer is all about, and how this tool can work for you.

Termination of transfers: get rights back!

Creators of all kinds routinely sign away rights to their work. Often, authors find that realizing creative or career goals can require giving some or all of their rights in copyright to publishers and other intermediaries. While many of these agreements last "for the life of copyright" (which in the United States means seventy years after the author dies!), the law takes into account that these terms can ultimately be unfair to authors and artists. This is where "terminations of transfers" come in. Essentially, in the United States, authors can use the termination of transfers laws to regain the rights they have signed away. But because the law is complex, and because it requires that authors wait at least 35 years, creators need to be patient, savvy, and persistant to take full advantage of this power. Many people use terminations because their works are tremendously successful, and they want to recapture rights to enjoy more of their work's financial success. Many others find that the people who own their work are not acting as great stewards for it. The book might be out of print, the song might not be digitized or available online. For creators who want their work 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—terminations are a powerful option for getting their work back out in front of audiences. Whatever you choose to do, the most improtant thing is that you know this law exists, and that you feel empowered to take advantage of it. Authors Alliance and Creative Commons are developing this tool to raise awareness of the law and its importance to creators who want to share their work widely.

For more detailed information about the law surrounding the "termination of transfers" provisions or this tool, please take a look at our FAQ. To move through the tool, use the navigation links on the right or the bottom of the page. And don't be shy about clicking on scary looking legal terms; we've put important definitions for you in our Glossary.

What does this tool do?

This tool is designed to raise awareness of the "termination of transfer" provisions and to make it easier for people to figure out whether the "termination rights" of U.S. copyright law might be relevant to their work. If a termination right might exist, the tool estimates - based on the information you provide - when the termination right might be excercised. The tool gathers this information along with some basic details about the work that might be useful and relevant to preparing the "termination notice" required to officially start the termination process.

This information can then be passed on to legal counsel who can then assist you in exercising your termination rights. Remember that this tool is provided for educational and awareness-raising purposes only—it cannot substitute for legal advice and analysis. Moreover, the tool is presently in "beta"—we are still ironing out the kinks and asking for your help to make it better!

To learn more about the information that you will need in order to complete the tool, click here.

How do I get started?

To start working through the tool and see if you may be able to terminate an existing agreement, click here.


Please note, this tool is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, or a substitute for legal advice.