Copyright Termination and Technical Standards

34 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2013 Last revised: 26 Jun 2014

See all articles by Jorge L. Contreras

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Andrew Hernacki

Venable, LLP

Date Written: June 24, 2014


Section 203 of the Copyright Act permits authors to terminate any grant of rights in a copyright between 35 and 40 years after the initial grant was made. In this article we analyze the application of Section 203 termination to technical standards documents, focusing in particular on the exclusion of works-made-for-hire, the treatment of joint works and derivative works. We conclude that, although Section 203 is theoretically applicable to technical standards, several statutory obstacles would impede the wholesale termination of standards-related license grants. Nevertheless, in order to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation, we recommend that Congress or the courts explicitly acknowledge the inapplicability of Section 203 to technical standards.

Keywords: standards, copyright, termination, Section 203

Suggested Citation

Contreras, Jorge L. and Hernacki, Andrew, Copyright Termination and Technical Standards (June 24, 2014). University of Baltimore Law Review, Vol. 43(2), pp. 221-253 (2014), Available at SSRN:

Jorge L. Contreras (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Andrew Hernacki

Venable, LLP ( email )

United States

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