Former Village People member wins court fight to reclaim song rights
U.S. District Judge Barry T. Moskowitz on Monday rejected a lawsuit by two music publishers who argued singer-songwriter Victor Willis had no right to regain ownership of 33 songs he co-wrote for the group under contract.
"The Court concludes that a joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate the grant," the judge wrote.
It's the first test of a decades-old copyright provision and could mean millions in additional royalties for Willis, who wrote the group's big hits and sported a policeman persona in the group.
"I'm extremely pleased with the court's determination," Willis said in a statement. "And I look forward to controlling my copyright interests in 2013, as the law provides."
Stewart Levy, an attorney for Scorpio Music and Can't Stop Productions, tells the New York Times it doesn't lay out how much Willis will get and the case is far from over.
Still, some say the move could mean bigger things for other artists who try to reclaim ownership of their hit records down the line.
"To say this decision will send shock waves through the record industry [as] artists [are] seeking to take back their copyrights is an understatement," says Willis' publicist, Linda Smythe, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
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