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Paul McCartney Sues Sony/ATV Over Beatles Song Rights

January 20, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee

The Los Angeles Times reports that Paul McCartney has sued music publisher Sony/ATV over the rights to 267 songs he wrote with John Lennon. This includes all of the Beatles’ hits like “Yesterday,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Hey Jude” and more. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. McCartney is hoping to get the rights to all of the songs he made with the band, and this is the latest step in a process that has been going on for years.

The songs were originally published by Northern Songs. At one point, Michael Jackson owned half of the rights before his death in 2009. His estate then sold that half to Sony/ATV for $750 million. Sony/ATV already had the other half of the rights.

McCartney’s lawsuit includes the term “copyright termination”, which means that songwriters whose work was sold or transferred to third parties have “the non-waivable right to terminate those transfers and reclaim their copyright interests.” It was signed into law by the Copyright Act of 1976. The time period is set at 56 years. That means that Lennon and McCartney’s 1962 songs like “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” would be up for termination in 2018. If McCartney wins the suit, more Beatles songs will become available as they hit 56 years.

A spokesperson for McCartney said: “Paul McCartney has today filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York against Sony/ATV to confirm his ownership in his US reversionary copyrights, which are granted to him by US copyright law, in the songs he wrote with John Lennon and recorded with The Beatles. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and bears the case no. 17cv363.

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Paul McCartney, Joseph Lee