Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Beatles music rights dispute settled by Paul McCartney

Music fans and copyright holders in New Jersey may be interested in learning that Sir Paul McCartney, who rose to international fame as a member of the Beatles, settled a long-running dispute over the rights to the band's songs. The settlement, reached at the end of June 2017, involved an undisclosed sum of money and assurances that McCartney will receive the copyrights as early as October 2018.

According to Reuters, U.S. copyright laws enacted in 1976 allow the authors of some songs to regain their rights to the music after a given amount of time. The lawsuit, which was filed in January 2017, targeted Sony/ATV, which had acquired legal dominion over the Beatles' catalog after the late singer Michael Jackson won them from McCartney in a 1985 bidding war.

According to McCartney, the decision means that he'll be able to claim at least 260 individual copyrights for songs that he wrote with the late John Lennon and others that he created and recorded by himself. Notably, the district judge who agreed to have the case dismissed because of the settlement left the door open to retrying it in the event of further disagreements.

Artists and others who work with music companies may sign away the rights to their own creative output without understanding the long-term ramifications. In the event that their art becomes popular later, they might end up losing out on significant sums of money. Similarly, businesses that rely on IP could find that unfavorable licensing agreements limit their rights to benefit from their own work. Attorneys with experience in intellectual property litigation might be able to help such parties evaluate contracts more thoroughly to anticipate these problems.Source: Reuters, "Paul McCartney settles with Sony/ATV over Beatles music rights," Jonathan Stempel, 06/30/2017

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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