Copyright Compendium

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619.13(J) Trust or Estate Named as Claimant

 

619.13(J) Trust or Estate Named as Claimant

 

The Office will accept an application that names a trust or estate as the copyright claimant if that entity is a legal or beneficial owner of the copyright.

 

If an individual and a trust or estate are named together in the Name of Claimant field/space, the application may be accepted if it seems likely that the individual is a beneficiary or duly authorized agent of the trust or estate. For example, the registration specialist will accept an application that identifies an individual with one or more of the following terms:

 

• Administrator

• Administrator on behalf of

• Beneficiary

• Executor

• Fiduciary

• Personal Representative

• Trustee

 

If the applicant fails to provide a transfer statement explaining how the trust or estate obtained ownership of the copyright, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant unless there is a clear relationship between the name of the author and the claimant.

 

Examples:

 

• An application is submitted for a screenplay naming “Riggins National Bank, Trustee” as the sole copyright claimant. Riggins National Bank holds the copyright in a motion picture screenplay in trust for the investors in a motion picture venture. The transfer statement indicates that the trustee obtained the copyright in this work “by contract.” The registration specialist will register the claim.

 

• An application is submitted for a sculptural work naming Joan Mason as the author and stating that the author died in 2006. The application names “Brian Mason, Administrator” as the copyright claimant, and the transfer statement indicates that the claimant obtained the copyright “by court order.” The registration specialist will register the claim.

 

• An application is submitted for a painting. The application names Jonathan Edwards as the author of this work and states that the author died in 2008. “The Estate of Jonathan Edwards” is named as the copyright claimant, but a transfer statement is not provided. The registration specialist may register the claim without communicating with the applicant. The claimant appears to be the owner of the work by inheritance, because there is a clear relationship between the name of the author and the claimant.

 

• An application is submitted for an autobiographical work, naming Roseanne Smith as the author and stating that the author died in 2010. “The Roseanne Smith Living Trust” is named as the claimant, and there is no transfer statement. The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant, because it is unclear whether the trust still exists or whether it terminated upon the author’s death.

 

• An application is submitted for a musical work naming Michael Stevens as the author and stating that the author died in 2012. “Hands Across the Oceans Trust” is named as the claimant, but no transfer statement is provided. The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant to request an appropriate transfer statement.