Under American copyright law, authors have a statutory right to terminate copyright-related contracts. But this termination right is an anomaly very specific to US copyright law and there are no equivalent ‘recapturing’ rights in the EU or the UK.
BASCA reported back in 2015 how Bruce Woolley, co-writer of Buggles’ hit Video Killed The Radio Star, with the help of music copyright attorney Lisa Alter, was able to ‘recapture’ the rights to his US catalogue.
Duran Duran had sought to reclaim the copyright to some of their hits using this very process but in December last year a high court judge ruled that contracts made under English law can prevent them from doing so and ruled in favour of their publishers Gloucester Place Music, owned by Sony/ATV.
Now Sony/ATV are going back to the courts as BASCA Fellow Sir Paul McCartney is also attempting to secure the reversion of his U.S. Beatles publishing copyrights next year and claims that the publishing company has so far failed to agree to transfer these copyrights to the songwriter when the legal rights expire, despite repeated requests dating back to 2008.
Yesterday (18/01/17) McCartney filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court against Sony/ATV to confirm his ownership in his U.S. reversionary copyrights granted to him by U.S. copyright law in the songs he wrote with fellow Beatle, John Lennon.