Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

Copyright of Magazine Article

When a magazine goes out of business, who owns the copyrights to the articles printed in it?

Asked on 12/22/08, 7:58 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Copyright of Magazine Article

Intellectual property such as patents, copyrights and trademarks does not simply vanish because a former holder has gone out of business, any more than a house, car or bank account cease to exist upon the death of their former owner.

When a magazine ceases to be published, very often the company that used to publish it still exists; or perhaps the parent company of the erstwhile publisher remains in existence. In other situations, the magazine's assets - including its printing presses, stock of back issues, subscriber list - would be sold or transferred in satisfaction of debs and would have a new owner or owners.

Discovering who they are can be a difficult quest, but I believe there are copyright search and clearance firms that can do this for you for a fee.

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Answered on 12/30/08, 4:52 pm
Gordon Firemark Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark

Re: Copyright of Magazine Article

The "successor in interest" of the magazine owns the copyrights. Determining who the successor in interest is, can be a challenge.

If there was a bankruptcy, the court records will probably indicate how the copyrights were disposed of.

A search of copyright office records is the best way to identify the current owner.

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Answered on 12/22/08, 9:02 pm

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