copyright law, marital assets


Often in the case of a marriage where one partner is a creative spouse, the primary marital asset is a body of copyrighted works. In 2013, author-spouses entered the period when they may begin to terminate any putative copyright transfer to the community property estate or terminate other transfers that may be the basis for prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, property settlements, or dissolution decrees in divorce actions. Section 203 of the 1976 Copyright Act provides that an author may unilaterally terminate a transfer of copyright approximately thirty-five years after the initial transfer. In community property states, state law assumes that through the magic of the operation of state law, the authorspouse transfers the copyright that federal law initially vests in the author to the community property (marital) estate. This Article will analyze whether an author-spouse may terminate the transfer of copyright in the context of a domestic relationship. It concludes that in the context of copyright termination, the domestic relationship, and state law, the author-spouse will always be able to nullify the carefully ordered state law presumptions for domestic relations and the possible ensuing dissolution of the marital union.