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Paul McCartney Takes Sony To Court

It's not often you have one of the biggest musicians of all time suing one of the biggest record labels but that's the case with Paul McCartney and Sony/ATV. The suit is that McCartney wants a declaratory judgement to resolve the uncertainty of getting copyright ownership of Beatles songs back.

US copyright law as of 1976 gives people who handed over rights to publishers 35 years to reclaim said rights in the latter stages of a term. Section 203 of the Copyright Act allows  authors "to terminate grants of copyright assignments and licenses that were made on or after January 1, 1978 when certain conditions have been met."

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The catalog of 267 songs from between 1962 and 1971 has had the musical legend sending termination notices to Sony/ATV since 2008 and expects to regain the rights by October 5, 2018. The problem however, according to McCartney's team, is that the giant record label has shown no effective response, but rather, even opposed another termination case with Duran Duran in the mean time. In response, the record label had to say:

“Sony/ATV has the highest respect for Sir Paul McCartney with whom we have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding relationship with respect to the treasured Lennon & McCartney song catalog.  We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon’s Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalog’s long-term value. We are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit which we believe is both unnecessary and premature.”

There's factual speculation as to why Paul's camp is bringing this suit up now as Sony/ATV attempted to hold out until the Duran Duran case was over. Duran Duran filed theirs in the UK where the court stated Enlglish contractual laws hold more power than American termination laws and resulted in a Sony/ATV win. By filing the suit in the US, McCartney is likely to have a very different outcome as termination rights overrule contracts.

How do you think this will turn out?


Written by Tyler O


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