Paul McCartney Is Trying to Reclaim the Rights to His Beatles Songs
More than 30 years after Michael Jackson purchased the publishing rights to the Beatles‘ catalog, Paul McCartney is looking to reclaim them. According to sources, he has already begun the paperwork necessary to have the rights to the songs he and John Lennon wrote in the ’60s.
McCartney isn’t trying to make a deal with Sony/ATV. the company that was formed by the 1995 merger of Jackson’s estate and Sony. Instead, Billboard says that he’s using a provision of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 to get them back. The law allows songwriters to regain their rights after 56 years, or two consecutive 28-year periods. To do so, they must file termination claims between two and 10 years before that window closes. Sony/ATV’s rights for the Beatles’ songs expire between 2018 and 2025.
Towards the end of 2015, McCartney filed termination notices on 32 songs, most of them from the last two years of the Beatles’ existence, and it’s believed that he previously filed claims on his earlier songs. It’s important to note that this applies solely in the U.S. — Sony/ATV will still control them globally — and only to McCartney’s half of the songs credited to him and Lennon. Billboard adds that, because Lennon was killed in 1980, his portion was up for reversion in 1990, but Sony/ATV made a deal with Yoko Ono to keep control of the rights for the duration of the copyright. The law stipulates that, in the case of co-writes, the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the last author.
Jackson purchased ATV in 1985, which had owned the Beatles’ copyrights since 1967, for more than $47 million, which McCartney considered to be an act of betrayal by his friend. Ten years later, Jackson sold half of his share to Sony for $100 million. Earlier this week, Sony/ATV agreed to buy out the Jackson estate’s share for more than $750 million.
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