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Sir Paul McCartney sues Sony over Beatles songs

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It could become one of the most important legal battles in music - Sir Paul McCartney is suing Sony over control of The Beatles' back catalogue. The star has gone to a US court, seeking to regain the publishing rights to 267 of the band's classic songs. He's been trying to get them back since the 1980s, when Michael Jackson famously out-bid him for the rights. Jackson's debt-ridden estate sold the songs to Sony last year, along with others including New York, New York. Sir Paul's legal case, filed in a Manhattan court on Wednesday, is over what is known as copyright termination - the right of authors to reclaim ownership of their works from music publishers after a specific length of time has passed. It was part of the US 1976 Copyright Act and, in recent years, performers like Prince, Billy Joel and Blondie have used it to regain control of their work. However, Duran Duran recently lost a similar case - when the British High Court ruled that the contracts they signed in the UK took precedence over their rights in the US.

Under UK law, music publishing companies can control the copyright until 70 years after the artist's death. Sir Paul is worried that Sony/ATV Music Publishing will use Duran Duran's loss to challenge his attempts to obtain The Beatles' back catalogue. With his legal action, Sir Paul is trying to ensure Sony does not stand in his way by accusing him of a breach of contract or publishing agreement. "Rather than provide clear assurances to Paul McCartney that defendants will not challenge his exercise of his termination rights, defendants are clearly reserving their rights pending the final outcome of the Duran Duran litigation," said the legal papers filed on his behalf.

Source: BBC News

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