Thursday, August 23, 2012

Will Formalities (Adam Yauch version)

More on Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys.  His will is also receiving publicity for having a handwritten clause forbidding the use of his  music or artistic property for advertising purposes.  One legal question is whether he can ban the use of all Beastie Boys songs in ads because he did not own all of the rights to a song or songs.  Not knowing how the group worked and created music, I have no insight on that issue.

What intrigues me is the handwriting.  If it was added after the will was signed and witnessed, the clause is invalid because it was not witnessed by two people.  If it was added at the signing meeting, it should have been initialed by him and the witnesses to clarify that it was intended to be part of the will.  To properly revise a will, a client should execute a new will or a codicil.  To prevent clients from writing on wills, I offer to retain the originals in my vaults.

Also intriguing is the anti-commercial nature of the clause which stems from the pre-digital music era belief that to use music in commercials is "selling out."  Now, of course, bands use commercials as a means of getting their music heard and making money.  You have to fight for your right to make a living.