Is Your Intellectual Property Protected?

I’ve recently started hearing “Nothing Compares 2 U” in a commercial. I like the song, and it’s always nice to hear different takes on good songs. But I know that Prince didn’t often authorize the use of his songs for advertising, so it made me a little sad that his heirs weren’t wasting any time profiting off his work.

After attending a lecture at the Rose City Romance Writers, though, I’ve changed my opinion.

M.L. Buchman spoke about how to prepare your heirs to control your intellectual property and benefit from your legacy. One of the biggest point he drove home was that once you’re dead, it’s not fair to say how your heirs can use your legacy.

I like to control things, so I bristle at this a little bit, but it makes sense. You’re dead — what do you care of your song is used in a commercial? And if it keeps your spouse, kids, or other next of kin in a house and well fed, then you’ve done your part to provide.

Buchman is a romance writer on the Oregon coast, and he is currently working on a book to help creatives prepare a document their heirs can use to access and manage their intellectual property. It’s an important part of estate planning that I’d never thought of. Here are a few highlights.

  • Your heirs probably don’t know what intellectual property is, let alone all the ways it can be sold, so give them the information they need in language they can understand.
  • Don’t tell them what to do — you’re dead, so you don’t get to have a say in how they support themselves.
  • Gather necessary business account information and passwords so they can access money and tools.
  • Encourage them to have final signoff on all payments, even if they choose someone else to manage the IP. This ensures they won’t be robbed blind by an unethical agent or manager. (And this is good advice for us when we’re alive, too.)
  • Pull things together in one simple document. This will allow them to either learn to manage your IP themselves or give the person they choose to manage it

Follow M.L. Buchman on social media or sign up for his newsletter to find out when his book on this topic comes out. Based on what I saw at his presentation, it’s going to be full of important and actionable information.

Find out more about Rose City Romance Writers.

And sign up for their Spring Fling March 31-April 1. It will have a panel on selling your book plus sessions on marketing, outlining, writing believable characters and worlds, and, of course, writing great sex. I’ll be there. Will you?

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