Sticky Copyrights: Discriminatory Tax Restraints on the Transfer of Intellectual Property

51 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2009 Last revised: 15 Apr 2010

Bridget J. Crawford

Pace University School of Law

Mitchell Gans

Hofstra University - School of Law

Date Written: August 16, 2009

Abstract

The focus of this article is the federal estate and gift tax treatment of copyright termination rights. The right of a creative individual to terminate prior copyright transfers serves to protect against economic exploitation. Once a copyright’s value has been established in the marketplace, the author (or the author’s heirs) enjoy a 'second look' at the gift, sale, license or other transfer of a copyright. But copyright termination rights - intended to enhance the economic well-being of authors and artists - undermine estate-planning strategies available to owners of other types of property. There is no policy justification for such discrimination, and so this article proposes legislative changes that would level the playing field for wealth transfer tax purposes.

Keywords: copyright, estate taxation, gift taxation, termination rights, intellectual property, tax, wealth transfer tax, gift, estate, termination, heirs, family, artist, author, creative individual, estate planning, wills, testation

JEL Classification: K19, K34

Suggested Citation

Crawford, Bridget J. and Gans, Mitchell, Sticky Copyrights: Discriminatory Tax Restraints on the Transfer of Intellectual Property (August 16, 2009). Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 67, 2010; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1454797

Bridget J. Crawford (Contact Author)

Pace University School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

Mitchell M. Gans

Hofstra University - School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
(516) 463-5876 (Phone)

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