The Beatles’ singer-songwriter Sir Paul McCartney has filed a case in a Manhattan court against music publisher Sony/ATV to reclaim the publishing rights of 267 of the band’s songs. McCartney has filed his case under the copyright termination law of United States that gives an artist the right to regain ownership of their works from music publishers after a certain period of time.
His legal team has cited the 1976 Copyright Act that rules that the rights to works made before 1978 must be returned to their creators 56 years. The year 2018 will mark 56 years since John Lennon and McCartney first starting writing songs for The Beatles.
According to the lawsuit, McCartney has been fighting for this since 2008, reported Rolling Stone. In the 1980s Michael Jackson had out-bid McCartney and bought control of The Beatles’ back catalogue. However, his rising debts forced his heirs to sell it off to Sony/ATV in 2016. If McCartney wins the case, he will regain ownership over songs like “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and “The Long and Winding Road”.
McCartney is not the first person to cite the 1976 Copyright Act. Earlier, artists like Billy Joel, Blondie and Prince have used it to reclaim ownership over their work, according to BBC. However, Duran Duran had lost a similar case in United Kingdom recently. The country’s law permits music publishers to enjoy the copyright up to 70 years after the artist’s death.
Sony/ATV said the lawsuit was “unnecessary and premature”. A company spokesperson told Rolling Stone, “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 and McCartney song catalogue... We are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit.”