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ASSIGNMENT

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The transferal of the possession of, i.e., the ownership of, property, rights, or interests in property from one party to another. The transfer may involve the right to own or act. The possession may be tangible, e.g., a car, or intangible, e.g., a copyright.

An assignment to the rights in ownership entitles the assignee to all legal benefits provided by law, e.g., to the right to collect royalties and to rent, sell, or lease for profit. An assignment to act may include corporate voting rights, franchise ownership, or estate executorship. Assignments may be made contractually by authorized entities, e.g., by people or corporations, or by court decree, e.g., a court appointed attorney who defends a person being prosecuted by the state, or a court directed wage transfer from debtor to creditor.

In the music business, assignments may occur in many ways. For example, a business may be sold (sometimes unexpectedly as in the case of the death of an owner) or small companies may be merged with larger companies and rights in compositions, masters, contracts, licenses, etc. may be transferred (assigned) to a new company (these rights to re-assign are allowed or disallowed via existing contract(s) with the old company). Other types of assignment include songwriters who assign their right in copyright to a music publisher in whole (as in work made for hire agreements) or in part (as in a publishing agreement). Artists who are songwriters may be required by their recording contract to assign rights in their compositions to the record company's publishing arm. Other agreements require artists to assign a share of their rights in royalties to the record producer. Artists may assign certain powers of attorney to their business managers. Or, artists can assign their attorneys the right to negotiate contracts to record records, make commercials, merchandise their name and likeness, etc.. By assigning rights, a person or entity gives up some rights and benefits (usually monetary) to hopefully gain more benefits (e.g., to increase the sales volume and profitability of a product).

Assignment agreements may be terminated according to contract, by statute law, or via legal action and court decree (for example, in cases where bankruptcy nullifies an artist's obligation to fulfill a contract and the assignments it may contain).

See Cross-links: ASSIGN, SONG under "Song Administration," COPYRIGHT MORTGAGE, COPYRIGHT ADMINISTRATION, RIGHT, CONTRACT-RECORDING CONTRACT clauses #17, #19, CONTRACT-SONGWRITER/PUBLISHER CONTRACT clauses #9, #12, #13, COPYRIGHT LAW under "Transfer of Copyright Ownership," PATENT under "Patent Assignment," CONTRACT under "Mortgage."

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