The steamroller destruction of the hard drive containing incomplete works by the late Sir Terry Pratchett has made the news today.
Using a steamroller is of course one way to create a disc world.
The unpublished works were being squashed beyond recovery in order to comply with the wishes of Sir Terry. As Rob Wilkins, assistant to the bestselling author, said, this was fulfilling an “obligation”. This was the implementation of Sir Terry’s instructions as to how this particular portion of his work was to be used (or not) following his death. By setting out clear wishes and instructions his artistic wishes could be followed and help shape the artistic legacy.
Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the Beastie Boys included instructions in his will that his music could not be used in advertising. As with MCA, documenting wishes helps you take artistic control and also helps your executors and loved ones by making your wishes clear. Attaching appropriate conditions or restrictions enables your executors to make these wishes happen. Otherwise, it would be potentially very difficult without clearly expressed and documented instructions. Executor duties and investment responsibilities mean they might not have taken six and a half tonnes to your unfinished work or would happily see your tunes in an advert. The default law may have obliged them to take a different course.
“Protecting artistic legacy and value
For artists in whatever field a will also very importantly protects your artistic legacy and the associated finances (e.g. royalties etc). Having a clear will and instructions as to the future use of your work can be critical. It will help avoid confusion, conflict and unnecessary tax. A will can make special provision for the future ownership and management of your work to best secure the artistic legacy and integrity of your creativity and in a way that you wish. Estate planning can be key where there has already been and/or will be in the future significant financial returns from the work.”
We think that is not a bad summary of what artists and creatives should do to make sure they can put their stamp, with the legal back-up, on their artistic legacy when they are not with us.