2310.3 (B) Who May Terminate a Grant Under Section 203?
A grant made by the author of a work may be terminated by that individual.
If the author is deceased, and if that individual did not exercise his or her right to terminate under Section 203, the grant may be terminated by the heirs holding a majority share of the author’s termination interest. The heirs may include the author’s widow or widower, the author’s children, and/or the children of any child who predeceased the author. See 17 U.S.C. § 203 (A) (2) (A)- (C).The Copyright Act defines a “widow” or “widower” as “the author’s surviving spouse under the law of the author’s domicile at the time of his or her death, whether or not the spouse has later remarried.” 17 U.S.C. § 101. The author’s “children” are defined as “that person’s immediate offspring, whether legitimate or not, and any children legally adopted by that person.”
If all of the author’s heirs are deceased, and if the author never exercised his or her right to terminate under Section 203, the grant may be terminated by the author’s executor, administrator, personal representative, or trustee, and that party “shall own the author’s entire termination interest.” See 17 U.S.C. § 203 (A) (2) (D).
If the grant was executed by two or more authors of a joint work, the grant may be terminated by “a majority of the authors who executed” the grant. See 17 U.S.C. § 203 (A) (1). If a joint author is deceased, that person’s termination interest may be exercised by the heirs holding a majority share of that interest. In this situation, the grant may be terminated by a majority of the joint authors and/or the heirs holding the majority share of the authors’ termination interests.
By contrast, if the joint authors executed separate grants, then each grant may be terminated by the individual who executed that grant, or if that individual is deceased, by the heirs holding a majority share of his or her termination interest.