Intangible property such as copyrights and the possible future licensing income from these assets can be significant. Valuation of copyright is required in a variety of situations. I have experience in assessing copyright valuation in all of the following:

1. Estates. Should a photographer have an estate valued at 5 million (or ten million in the case of a couple), a valuation of future revenue from licensing needs to be part of the estate  IRS filing. If a photographer’s income is primarily from prints as fine art, the copyrights may or may not have value. Each estate must be valued and each is different. Will the copyrights realistically generate income for the full 70 years after the death of the individual? Or are the photographs likely to have a dwindling revenue stream and how long will that be, realistically? Those setting up trusts or foundations must also establish a base value of the archive.

2. Dissolution. Whether in a divorce or the dividing up of assets between partners in a business relationship, copyright revenues need to be established

3. Collateral for a loan. An intangible asset such as a body of photographic work that has a proven and ongoing revenue stream may qualify as collateral for a business loan. Again the expected and defendable estimation of future licensing income must be established.

4. Sale. Recently large sums of money have been paid for important photographic collections. Generally these have had value as fine art or as documentation of a time or social condition but if the copyright is part of the sale, an estimate of future revenue is important to establish to maximize sale price.

5. Donation. Should an institution determine that it will accept the donation of photographs, regulations require that an appraisal of value be made prior to donation. Again, in most cases the value may be in the prints or negatives but if the copyright passes with the donation…and it may have to… future revenue of copyright is part of the value of the asset.

©2016 Ellen Boughn