The last will and testament of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died May 4 of cancer at age 47, demonstrates that he was serious about not selling his soul for “no TV ads,” as he promised in 1998’s “Putting Shame in Your Game.”
But what if, say, Ad-Rock falls on hard times 50 years from now and wants to sell a song to, let’s say, Skittles? Is this as cut and dry as it looks?
Image, or publicity, and copyright are two different things, says Seattle-based estate lawyer Wendy Goffe.
“Publicity passes to his beneficiary, so they are bound by the terms of his will but the laws in every state are different,” Goffe says. “Somebody might be able to use his publicity rights in a state where the law only applies during our lifetime or expire at death.
“Then there’s the copyright portion. The copyrights are co-owned by [Yauch], his band, his producer and Brooklyn Dust Music. The other owners of the copyright are free to do whatever they want. The will doesn’t bind them, only [Yauch’s] heirs.”
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