Publisher believes ex-Beatles copyright suit should be dismissed
By David Sands
March 15, 2017
Back in January, we told you about Paul McCartney’s legal efforts to get back rights to a large catalog of songs he wrote with the Beatles from Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Well, now Sony has responded to allegations made in his litigation.
The music publisher’s lawyers are saying his suit is “unripe” and should be dismissed. What that means in normal people talk they’re saying it’s premised on conditions that aren’t currently being met and therefore a trial isn’t justified right now.
The former Beatle’s claim is based on the principle of copyright termination, established in the U.S. 1976 Copyright Act, which allows artists to get the rights back to their songs after a certain amount of time has passed. McCartney’s lawyers are asserting that this makes his music eligible for termination starting in October of 2018. However, it’s still not clear whether that principle applies to the U.S. rights of non-U.S. songwriters who assigned the rights to their work to non-U.S. publishers.
Copyrights are handled in a differently under U.K. Law. posing the question of what country’s legal framework takes precedence in determining his rights. In similar case last year involving Duran Duran (Gloucester Place Music Ltd v. Le Bon), a British Court ruled that because Duran Duran’s contract had been signed in the U.K., the U.S. termination rules weren’t applicable to their situation.
As for McCartney’s case, Sony lawyers stated their position in a preliminary letter to the New York court handling the case on Monday (March 14), cited by The Hollywood Reporter.
“As an initial matter, SATV has made no statement challenging the validity of Plaintiff’s termination notices. Indeed, it has acknowledged they are valid, so there is no controversy regarding this issue. Nor has SATV claimed that Plaintiff’s service of the notices breached any agreement and SATV may never make such a claim. The complaint thus impermissibly seeks an advisory opinion on a hypothetical claim that depends on both the outcome of Gloucester and contingent future actions that may never occur.”
In less legally complicated McCartney news, Sir Paul will be releasing a 3-track cassette of unreleased demos he made with Elvis Costello in 1989 for Record Store Day. Flowers In The Dirt – The Cassette Demos With Elvis Costello will include alternate versions of their songs “I Don’t Want To Confess,” “Shallow Grave” and “Mistress & Maid.” The limited edition cassettes will be available at participating stores on April 23.
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