Paul McCartney, Sony Settle Beatles Song Rights Dispute

After going to court to regain the rights to 267 of The Beatles‘ songs, Paul McCartney has finally reached a settlement with Sony Music.

McCartney, now 75, was a guitarist and singer in the legendary rock band and is one of two surviving members (the other is drummer Ringo Starr).

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The former Beatle has been trying to get the rights to the songs back since the 1980s, when pop icon Michael Jackson outbid him and secured them. After Jackson’s death in 2009, the rights stayed with his estate, but because of the late singer’s large debt (to the tune of approximately $250 million), the rights were sold to Sony in 2016.

McCartney initially sued in the United States in January, asking the court for a declaration that he could soon reclaim his copyright ownership of the Beatles’ catalogue.

(The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 provides the non-waivable right for owners of works to reclaim them after a certain period of time, provided that they signed their rights over on or before Jan. 1, 1978. McCartney relied on a specific provision that reads: “Termination of the grant may be effected at any time during a period of five years beginning at the end of 56 years from the date copyright was originally secured, or beginning on Jan. 1, 1978, whichever is later.”)

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McCartney’s date was Oct. 5, 2018, but the musician could not be certain that Sony was going to transfer the rights over to him by that date. He was also aware of ’80s band Duran Duran being denied their song rights by Sony, so he pushed ahead with the court. The public may have to wait for years to find out any details, which will remain undisclosed.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos from McCartney’s lawyer Michael Jacobs, he writes that “The parties have resolved this matter by entering into a confidential settlement agreement and jointly request that the Court enter the enclosed proposed order dismissing the above-referenced action without prejudice.”

Lawyers for both parties refused to comment.

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