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Paul McCartney Files Proactive Copyright Claim Against Sony/ATV


According to reporting from Rolling Stone, Beatles singer Paul McCartney has filed a federal copyright lawsuit against Sony/ATV in order to proactively confirm his ownership of several Beatles songs, including ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Yesterday’. McCartney believes that the ownership of theses tracks should revert back to him in the fall of 2018. Sony’s path to owning the songs went through legendary singer Michael Jackson. This happened after Jackson bought a large part of the Beatles catalog in 1984 for approximately $50 million. Years later, he went on to form Sony/ATV with the tech giant to hold the songs. After Jackson’s death, Sony bought out Michael’s share of the company that held the Beatles catalog from his heirs for an undisclosed amount of money.

Why Does Paul McCartney Think He Can Get the Songs Back?

Paul McCartney’s Case

Under the terms of the Copyright Act of 1976, all work must be returned to the creating artist 56 years after the original date of the copyright. The year 2018 marks 56 years since the Beatles first came together to create some of the their music. McCartney’s copyright lawsuit is simply to confirm that ownership of the songs will transfer. As this is a future issue, no legal ruling has been made on who will own these very valuable songs in the year 2018.

Sony/ATV’s Response

Through its representatives, Sony/ATV has commented that the company is disappointed in McCartney’s action. The company notes that it has always had a positive relationship with McCartney and that it believes that his lawsuit is both unnecessary and premature.

This Could Set the Stage For an Important Copyright Battle

The (possible) future copyright litigation between Paul McCartney and Sony/ATV is poised to be one of the most important copyright battles in many years. In legal parlance, McCartney is seeking to bring a copyright termination claim and McCartney and his team are correct to note that U.S. copyright law does allow artist to obtain rights over their work after a specific number of year have passed. However, there is reason to believe that this case may not be so simple. Last year, a court in the United Kingdom ruled that the band Duran Duran could not regain rights to their work because a contract they signed took precedence over the copyright law. While that U.K. decision obviously has no precedence in any part of the United States, McCartney and his team are worried that Sony/ATV will attempt to make a similar argument before an American court. Indeed, many legal observers expect the same and Sony’s public response indicates that they may not be willing to give up the songs without a fight. This high profile case will certainly needed to be watched as it develops over the next few years.

Contact Our Office Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our copyright litigation attorneys have helped protect the rights of many individuals and businesses throughout South Florida. To learn more about what our firm can do for you, please do not hesitate to call our West Palm Beach today at 561-291-8298 to request your free initial consultation.




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