The termination notices issue (w/r/t copyright, artist rights, etc. in the US)

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So let's say you're wondering 'whuh?' at this. A detailed explanation:

And the bomb may have just gone off:

A California federal judge has given Village People original singer Victor Willis a big victory in a case that has been closely followed in the music industry.

Last year, Willis terminated rights to his share of the group's songs, including the monster hit, "Y.M.C.A." Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, the two companies that administer publishing rights to the group's songs, reacted by going to court for a judgment that Willis couldn't regain control over his work.

On Monday, California judge Barry Ted Moskowitz rejected the publishers' claims, granting Willis' motion to dismiss.

As noted later in the article:

When the Copyright Act amendments went into effect in 1978, it meant that songwriters could 35 years later terminate copyright grants to publishers and record labels. If they were to do so, however, they need to send their termination notices not less than two or more than ten years from the intended termination date. The result is that 2013 is the first year where musicians can effectuate a termination notice and a number of them who created works in the late 1970s are now under the clock to do so or forfeit the right for the foreseeable future.

It's a ticking time bomb for the music industry as artists such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Tom Petty have sent their own notices, and thus, the lawsuit by Scorpio and Can't Stop to prevent Willis from making his own termination became one of the industry's first and most important legal battles on this front.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:03 (five years ago) Permalink

paging john fogerty

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:11 (five years ago) Permalink

Very interesting. I'm not sure I understand the legalese, though. Does that just mean Victor Willis (or whoever) can give notice that their label/song publisher can no longer sell their records or profit from their songs and that the musician gets his master recordings, rights to sell/license/etc. back?

some dude, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:26 (five years ago) Permalink

that's what it seems like to me. because it can be hard to determine the value of a work/recording at the time, this gives artists/musicians a chance to regain control and enter into new/more lucrative ventures with their works.

call all destroyer, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:33 (five years ago) Permalink

xpost -- As I understand it, pretty much, though there's doubtless more I'm missing -- a lot of it comes down to the validity of the work for hire argument as well being advanced by the companies. The Eagles, especially Don Henley, are also champing at the bit on this one.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:34 (five years ago) Permalink

available exclusively on

yo just a couple (Matt P), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:36 (five years ago) Permalink

keeping my fingers crossed for a giant shitshow

yo just a couple (Matt P), Tuesday, 8 May 2012 19:39 (five years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Yeah, this could be major.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:39 (four years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

putting this here where it belongs:

In 1976, an amendment was made to the Copyright Act that permits authors to terminate grants of copyright assignments and licenses that were made on or after January 1, 1978. Under Section 203 of the Copyright Act, artists may reclaim ownership of a work's copyright no earlier than 35 years after the grant was executed. However, artists may give notice of their intent to terminate as early as 25 years after the grant had been executed.[36] In 2006, Steven Greenberg became the first American songwriter to file "notice of termination" under this act, in regard to Funkytown and the album it is a part of.[37][38][39][40][41] Because the song was released in 1980, the earliest that Greenberg would actually have the copyright returned to him is in the year 2015. So far, Casablanca's successor (Universal Music Group) has had little to say on the matter. Their stance legally has been that the song was a "work for hire" which are not protected under the copyright amendment, with Greenberg playing the role of the employee. As the first major hit to be reviewed for termination, many artists across the country are eagerly awaiting the outcome.

sleeve, Wednesday, 18 December 2013 22:56 (three years ago) Permalink

re: Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown"

sleeve, Wednesday, 18 December 2013 22:56 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

A new example: Harry Shearer's lawsuit re Spinal Tap:


With other accounting improprieties alleged such as undocumented marketing expenses and improper deductions, Shearer's lawsuit references the Copyright Act's termination provisions, which allow authors to cancel grants and regain rights after 35 years.

"Particularly given that Vivendi has offset fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights against equally dubious revenue streams for film and merchandising rights also controlled by Vivendi subsidiaries, Shearer is concurrently filing notices of copyright termination for publishing and recording rights in Spinal Tap songs he co-wrote and co-recorded, as well as in the film itself," states the complaint.

That would mean that Vivendi would potentially lose rights to This is Spinal Tap in 2019. Copyright termination has been a big subject in the music industry, but is only beginning to impact the film business.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 18 October 2016 15:46 (one year ago) Permalink

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