Paul McCartney is Suing Sony for Song Rights

A photo of Paul McCartney.

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock

Paul McCartney wants his music back.

The Beatle is suing Sony/ATV Music Publishing to regain the rights of the Beatles songs he both wrote and co-wrote with John Lennon. That equates to 267 songs in total.

McCartney filed the suit this week, stating that he has the rights to obtain his music due to copyright termination. Copyright termination is when the original creators have the right to reclaim ownership of their work after a specific length of time has passed. Sir Paul is citing the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act, which over the past few years has allowed many performers to regain control over their work. McCartney argues that the act would allow him to receive the rights back as early as next year.

This lawsuit is one of many attempts by McCartney to gain back control of his music, as he has been in a decades-long battle with Sony for the rights. He first lost those rights back in the ’80s, when Michael Jackson outbid him for the whole ATV catalog, paying $41.5 million. In 1995, Sony and Jackson formed Sony/ATV, thus giving Sony a 50% share of the music. Last year, Jackson’s estate sold his 50% stake to Sony for $750 million, and now McCartney only has to battle one entity for his catalog. He has been sending notices to Sony/ATV about his wishes since 2008.

That said, McCartney’s lawyers are fearful that Sony will push back with its win against Duran Duran, who filed a similar suit against them and lost. The problem: the British court says that any contracts signed in the U.K. take precedence over any rights they may have in the U.S. Plus, British law says music publishers can keep the rights for up to 70 years after a musician’s death. McCartney filed the lawsuit in New York City hoping that will work in his favor.

While Sony has continued to fight McCartney over the years, a statement by the company said it 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.”


About DevonJ140
I am currently an Accounting Director living in New York City. I love reading and learning more about business, finance, tech, and current events.

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