The Research Handbook on Art and Law
This chapter argues that a possible justification for the extension of copyright beyond the death of the author is the key role that copyright successors may serve in the life cycle of artistic works. In particular, with respect to an artist’s unpublished work, a time-sensitive decision must be made about whether or not to keep the physical artifacts associated with copyrights—an obligation that often falls to these successors. Bulky canvases, sketches, negatives, and myriad other items must be sifted through in order to separate the wheat from the chaff. In this way, the post-death cleanup period offers a once-in-a-lifetime event in which copyright successors can serve a socially valuable function.