The Paul McCartney Project

Paul McCartney settles with Sony over Beatles songs rights

Friday, June 30, 2017 • Posted in “A day in the life

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In January 2017, Paul McCartney filed a suit in United States district court against Sony/ATV Music Publishing seeking to reclaim ownership of his share of the Lennon–McCartney song catalogue beginning in 2018. McCartney and Sony agreed to a confidential settlement in June 2017.

From Reuters, June 30, 2017:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Paul McCartney has reached a confidential settlement of his lawsuit against Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC in which he sought to reclaim copyrights to songs by the Beatles.

The accord disclosed on Thursday in filings with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ends the 75-year-old McCartney’s pre-emptive effort to ensure that the copyrights, once owned by Michael Jackson, would go to him starting in October 2018.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos signed an order dismissing the case, but agreed to revisit it if a dispute arose.

The dismissal request had been made by Michael Jacobs, a lawyer for McCartney, on behalf of the singer and Sony/ATV.

It is unclear how the accord affects McCartney’s copyright claims. The singer’s representatives could not immediately be reached on Friday for comment.

McCartney had sued on Jan. 18 for a declaration that he could reclaim more than 260 copyrights, including for songs credited to him and John Lennon such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday” and “Hey Jude.”

The registrations at issue also covered “Maybe I’m Amazed” and several other songs McCartney recorded as a solo artist.

They even covered such titles as “Scrambled Egg,” which is close to the working lyric “Scrambled Eggs” that McCartney once used for the song that became “Yesterday.”

McCartney had been outbid by Jackson in 1985 for the Beatles’ song rights, which were later rolled into Sony/ATV, a joint venture with Sony Corp.

The pop star’s estate sold its stake in that venture to Sony for $750 million last year.

McCartney sued 1-1/2 months after a British court said the pop group Duran Duran could not reclaim rights to their songs, in its case against Sony/ATV’s Gloucester Place Music unit.

Changes made in 1976 to U.S. copyright law let authors like McCartney reclaim song rights after periods of time elapsed.

In his lawsuit, McCartney said he could begin exercising his rights on Beatles songs, starting with “Love Me Do,” on Oct. 5, 2018.

The case is McCartney v Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-00363.

Last updated on March 15, 2021


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