Paul McCartney Reaches Settlement with Sony in Beatles Rights Dispute

Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney, the famous singer for the rock band ‘Beatles’ and Sony signed a settlement agreement in their dispute over the Beatles song rights. Earlier, McCartney filed a suit before the court for a declaration that he could reclaim his copyright ownership share to Beatles’ catalog of songs and the assignees like Sony has no right over them after the expiration of copyright term in 2018. A letter issued by McCarney’s attorney to the US District Court states that the Parties have resolved this matter by entering into a confidential settlement agreement and jointly requests the Court to dismiss the suit.

McCartney filed a lawsuit in January in a US court to secure rights from Sony ATV music publishing following a British judicial ruling that shook up the industry.

Michael Jacobs, a lawyer for McCartney, informed a judge that the two sides “have resolved this matter by entering into a confidential settlement agreement”.

Jacobs asked Edgardo Ramos, a federal judge in New York, to dismiss the lawsuit. Representatives declined further comment.

The case revolves around the US Copyright Act of 1976 which aimed to strengthen the hand of songwriters – whose relationship with music publishers, who hold rights and distribute royalties, has been notoriously rocky. Under the act, songwriters could reclaim copyright from music publishers 35 years after they gave them away – or 56 years for songs from before 1978.

While US law is often seen as the gold standard in the entertainment industry, a British court took a different approach in December. It refused to grant rights to 1980s pop sensations Duran Duran – known for hits such as Rio and the James Bond theme A View to a Kill – on the grounds that US law did not apply in Britain.

In his lawsuit, McCartney’s lawyer said a Sony ATV executive approached him at a concert as the Duran Duran case went forward and warned the publisher would fight harder for the Beatles catalogue.

McCartney had vowed in the lawsuit to secure control of the catalogue – an issue of growing urgency as the first Beatles single, Love Me Do, came out in 1962, meeting the 56-year timeframe under the US act in 2018.

Sony ATV has rights to millions of songs including by other top names in music history such as Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan.

The company was initially a joint venture between Jackson and Japan’s Sony Corp, which bought out Jackson’s 50% stake from his estate last year for $750 million. Ironically, Jackson bought rights to Beatles songs after a leisurely chat with McCartney on the importance of music publishing – a sore point later for the ex-Beatle.


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