So, I am working for a non-profit organization that is starting up a record label that will release field recordings and heritage music. We have an artist agreement which allows us to license and use all Sound Recording and Musical Composition rights to the materials we collect. It is an exclusive license. Anyways, we are working on releasing materials by a fiddler who died without a will in 1964 and left 8 children and a wife who is no longer living. Currently he has four surviving daughters, three deceased sons, and one deceased daughter.
From what I understand about Tennessee intestate law and per stirpes, the rights are divided amongst the fiddler's children and then if that child dies those fractions are further divided to the grandchildren and the child's spouse. So, to get permission, we have to get signatures from each living daughter and then signatures from each son's children and surviving widow?
MAIN PROBLEM: We recently learned that the fiddler had a daughter who passed when she was 23. My initial research into Tennessee intestate law has lead me to believe that the deceased daughter still received a fraction (1/8) of the copyright when fiddler died, and that fraction automatically went to her daughter(fiddler's granddaughter). Since the granddaughter is no longer living, does that mean the 1/8 fraction has now been passed onto the granddaughter's 6 or so children? The problem is that nobody else in the fiddler's family knows anything about this other granddaughter or her six children. Do we absolutely have to track down the six great grand kids and get their permission in order to release the fiddler's materials? They probably don't even know who their great grandfather is. Could we just set aside an escrow account to collect whatever royalties they may claim if one of the six kids comes out of the woodwork?