Works that were released prior to January 1, 1978, are not subject to the “35-year rule.” Such works are subject to § 304(c), which has a different rule for terminations, which is basically 57 years after the copyright date.
This older law, § 304(c), presently ONLY covers musical compositions (and not sound recordings) registered prior to 1978, and it affects copyrights 57 years after the date of copyright. For instance, if you wrote a song in 1965 (and registered for copyright on a date in 1965), 57 years after that is 2022, so you could send a notice now, for termination in 2022. This is the law currently being utilized by Paul McCartney to terminate Sony’s right in 50% of a whole list of Beatles songs. (The law will also cover sound recordings registered from February 15, 1972 to December 31, 1977, but we’re just not there yet.) In any event, this law is very important, and we are just getting started with terminations of the great songs of the 1960s! There is still a lot of time left.
What if your record contract was signed in 1976, but your second or third album was released after January 1, 1978? Yes, you can terminate the record deal to the extent that the albums came out after the new law took effect.
If you wrote or composed compositions with a copyright date of 1971 or earlier, it is time to send terminations. Please contact us for more information.