Paul McCartney Settles Lawsuit with Sony/ATV to Reclaim Copyrights

Singer Paul McCartney recently settled his lawsuit against Sony/ATV Music Publishing which sought to reclaim copyrights to several Beatles songs.  McCartney had originally filed suit on January 18, seeking to be declared the holder of copyrights to several songs, including “Hey Jude.” “Yesterday,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”  McCartney had previously been outbid by Michael Jackson for the Beatles’ Song rights, which later went to Sony/ATV.  Under new copyright laws, McCartney can reclaim song rights after periods of time have elapsed.  Our New York City copyright infringement lawyers discuss the right to reclaim your copyright below.

Reclaiming Your Copyright

Changes made to copyright law in 2013 granted new rights to copyright holders that transferred their rights to publishers.  Under the new Section 203, authors have the right to reclaim copyrights transferred to a publisher in 1978 or later.  Authors can reclaim their rights 35 years after transferring their rights for publication.  They must file a notice of their intent to reclaim in advance.  

Section 203’s right to reclaim is intended to offer authors a second bite at the apple.  The law will apply only in certain instances and only authors or their heirs can terminate the publisher’s rights.  Further, authors are only entitled to one opportunity to use the termination option and renegotiate their contracts.

Anyone seeking to reclaim their copyright that was previously transferred to a publisher must give notice to the copyright holder (the publisher) and must be registered with the copyright office.  The notice must be provided within 10 years and no later than two years before the copyright would terminate.  Termination must additionally happen during a five-year period beginning 35 years after publication.

Reclaiming a copyright is a complex and newer procedure.  It will require strict adherence to the time table and notice requirements.  Any copyright holder that wants to reclaim their rights will need to consult with a copyright lawyer as soon as possible to start the termination process and move towards a stronger contract with increased economic opportunities.