Gifting a copyright to a loved one — whether it’s to a book, song or piece of art — means passing along a part of your legacy. Since copyrights are representative of personal creativity, they may be valuable not only for the royalties they produce, but the identity to which they’re tied.
“It’s an artist’s thumbprint on what they did,” says Tom Fox, Managing Director of The Private Client Reserve’s Entertainment and Pro Sports Group.
Fox recalls a client who transferred a catalog of song copyrights through his will to his widow upon his death. For the wife, the gift represented part of their life together. “There can be a lot of emotion and time invested in these works,” he says. “The husband created it, and now his wife continues to build it. There’s a sense of duty to carry on the family legacy.”
Since an individual’s identity is connected to a copyright, the family member who receives it may be less likely to liquidate it. “They want to hang on to the family ties,” Fox says.
But the laws that govern copyright and royalty transfer are extensive and at times convoluted. Therefore, planning is vital, says Allen Blevins, CPA, a lawyer and Partner at Nashville, TN-based Crownover Blevins P.C., which specializes in copyright law and intellectual property, among other areas of expertise. Working with lawyers or administrators may help copyright authors and gift recipients anticipate lesser-known implications.
Here’s what you need to know that may ensure that when you gift a copyright to a loved one, their joy won’t be diminished by unexpected complications.