After more than half a century Sir Paul McCartney will finally own the rights to his own music. “The song publishing business can be quite lucrative” McCartney told Michael Jackson back in the 80’s, while the two were collaborating. Jackson quipped to McCartney “I’m going to own yours!”. A few years later when ATV music came up for sale, Jackson purchased it for $47.5 million, acquiring about 250 Lennon-McCartney songs as part of the 4,000 song library owned by the company. The deal soured McCartney’s and Jackson’s friendship, as Sir Paul felt he and Lennon had been taken advantage of as youngsters and his friend, Michael Jackson, was now in a position to right an old injustice. Jackson didn’t see it that way, claiming it was “just business” and the two drifted apart.
The Beatle was non-too happy to see his music being used for commercials.
In 1995 Jackson sold half of ATV to Sony and together the two formed Sony/ATV Music Publishing, with Jackson and Sony each owning 50 percent of the company. A few years before his death, Sony made a deal with Jackson, to help him with his financial troubles in exchange for half of his 50% of the company, giving Sony 75% ownership of the music catalog. Last year (2016), Sony announced it’s intention to purchase the rest of the company from Jackson’s estate for a whopping $750 million. Putting Paul McCartney even further away from his dream.
Copyright laws to the rescue!
The US Copyright Act of 1967 states – for songs published before 1978, rights can be reverted back to the original author after 56 years. The Beatles released their first album in 1963, and their first single “Love Me Do” was released in 1962, making it 56 years old in 2018. In 2015 McCartney began the steps to reclaim his music, including filing a lawsuit for them.
This summer Paul McCartney secured the rights to his music in a private settlement with Sony. So, a big win for one of only two surviving Beatles, who has been on a journey to own the rights to his own music for nearly 50 years!