What Happens When Copyrights Aren’t Mentioned In Your Will?
“In Illinois, if a person dies without a will, their property goes to their closest living relatives. But if they literally have no living kin anywhere in the world, then the decedent’s property will ‘escheat’ to the State of Illinois. That rarely happens, though, because the law is written so that the property will go to the decedent’s relatives, even if they are very distant[.]“
But all this depends on whether or not there are any valid copyrights to the works.
Solutions? Quite a few:
Assuming valid copyright, Illinois could do nothing and simply allow the owners to continue owning the works and profiting from them. However, if I’m one of the owners I want to make sure I own the copyrights, so perhaps a declaratory judgment or a written agreement.
Two, Illinois could send cease and desist letters to the current copyright holders asking the current holder to stop any sales of the works, provide the state with any profits, and to hand over any materials to the state.
Three, Illinois could have the current copyright holders keep the rights and yet ask for royalties. Again, if I were a copyright holder I would want a written agreement.
Four, Illinois could sue the copyright holders for the copyrights.
So, artists, don’t forget to mention your intellectual property rights in your will.
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