The Beatles back catalogue is one of the most valuable in the world and Sir Paul McCartney has issued proceedings against its owner (Sony) to clear the way for him to reclaim his share of the publishing rights in his songs.
McCartney will not be in a position to start reclaiming his songs until 2018, but he has issued proceedings in the US seeking a declaration that in line with US law he is entitled to terminate the agreement under which assigned his publishing rights.
Over recent years, several artists have been reclaiming their copyrights in the US, but in 2016 an English Court ruled that Duran Duran could not rely on the US law to terminate their UK publishing deal even in respect of their US copyrights.
It is important to note that the Duran Duran case was decided on its own facts and contractual wording and so does not automatically indicate that McCartney’s claim will fail. Indeed, as he is bringing the case in America, the right to terminate is far more likely to be effective than it was for Duran Duran in the UK court, where Mr Justice Arnold acknowledged that no expert evidence regarding the extent of the US law had been submitted by either party.
Duran Duran have already indicated that they intend to challenge the court’s ruling and with Paul McCartney’s new claim, this promises to be an area of significant importance to writers and publishers in the coming years.
It could become one of the most important legal battles in music – Sir Paul McCartney is suing Sony over control of The Beatles’ back catalogue.
The star has gone to a US court, seeking to regain the publishing rights to 267 of the band’s classic songs.