Question about royalties from music/movies/tv shows

What happens to the royalties derived from music/tv shows/movies after the person who gets the royalties dies? can that person have it written into their will that the royalties must be pass on to whoever/whatever they want in said will, like next of kin or the ACLU or whatever?

I know Zimmy gave Allen Ginsburg the rights to some of his songs which helped Ginsburg pay the bills.

I assume it’s covered in the royalty contract, assuming that at least one side had competent lawyers.

Which leaves out about 99% of recording artists.:stuck_out_tongue:

Axl Rose for all his dickbaggery was right on when he said the best piece of advice he’d give to up and coming bands/musicians was: “Take a couple of business classes and spend a couple hundred bucks on a lawyer to review whatever contract the record company gives you, line by line and have the lawyer explain it to you like you’re a child. And NEVER sign ANYTHING right away.”

Royalties are property. Like furniture and houses. It goes to whoever the will says it goes to. If no will, then to whoever the state decides should get it. Think of it like a trust fund or some such that pays out over time.

One problem with copyright extension law is people sign over their royalty rights for $X. When the copyright terms get extended, who gets the extra royalties? The purchaser or the original owner? What if the original owner died 25 years ago, how do you track down who owns the extended rights, etc.? Maybe no one thought to fight over nothing in probate all those years ago and now there’s money at stake. Etc.

(Of course smart buyers put in a clause that says they get the royalties even if the terms are extended. But the real world is not always that clean.)

What happens if you make a demo record that gets famous almost 40 years later? In this case, the singers were alive but what if they weren’t? So nothing in their wills about royalties. But still there should have been something in probate court, someone to track down, and if they died you track down their heirs, etc.

Music royalty income goes to the estate and is distributed according to the terms of the creator’s will.

They do not have to be specifically mentioned in the will. If they are not, the money still goes to their heirs as part of the estate. Once the will is probated, you’d have to track down where and then determine who the heirs are. Then you’d need to track them down; they may have moved or died in the interim (if they heirs have died, the money goes to their heirs).

The rules are quite clear. The snag is trying to track down who the money goes to.

Musical theatre has “grand rights”–the amount paid to composers and lyricists every time you use their song. These rights are not transferable and cannot be sold. And if they are not paid, the show can be closed down.

When the people die, the rights go to their heirs.

This happened to my wife. Her father was a composer, and the royalties still trickled in even at age 100. When he died the rights went to her as sole heir. One of the easier things about settling the estate.
You have to notify the publishing companies, of course.
Given the length of copyright, it is likely that our kids will be getting them also, assuming his band music is still selling.

Grand rights are controlled by the copyright holder. The copyright can still be sold or transferred. What’s different about them is that grand rights must be negotiated directly with the publisher or copyright holder, as opposed to non dramatic performances which can be done under a compulsory license.

Same thing applies with movies and television, where the license is called synchronization rights, or sync rights for short.

An acquaintance of mine is related to members of a moderately popular ‘60s rock band. During the group’s heyday, they got hit by the IRS for paying insufficient taxes. All members of the group died young, and according to my acquaintance, the group’s royalties go to the IRS, have for some time, and probably will for as long as royalties continue to come in.