Paul McCartney sues Sony in the U.S. for return of rights to Beatles songs
Sir Paul McCartney has filed a claim in the U.S. against Sony in a bid to reclaim the copyright to Beatles songs that are currently owned by Sony, having previously been owned by Michael Jackson.
The claim is based on the U.S. Copyright Act 1976 which gives artists the chance to recover lost publishing rights on songs released before 1978. Sir Paul is hoping that a U.S. court will rule in his favour ahead of a UK court. In a similar case last year, the British band Duran Duran had filed a similar suit against a Sony/ATV subsidiary, and an English court ruled that American law came second to those of Great Britain.
By filing the suit in the U.S., McCartney's legal team hopes that U.S. Copyright law and its statutory termination rules – the point at which the copyright reverts back to the writer – would take precedence over any contracts in the UK.
Lennon and McCartney, the legendary songwriting team of The Beatles, had assigned the rights to some of the songs, written between 1962 and 1971, to various publishers. By the 1980s a number of the songs belonged to ATV. In late 1984, Australian billionaire Robert Holmes à Court put the songs up for sale. Sir Paul had spoken to his then-friend, Michael Jackson, about the lucrative business of owning songs and Jackson subsequently outbid his friend, taking ownership of the Beatles' catalogue. Jackson later worked with Sony to form Sony/ATV. Jackson’s heirs owned half of the business until the estate sold its share to Sony last year.