Village People lyricist wins lawsuit

From yesterday’s New York Times, via Larry Rohter:

Lyricist of ‘YMCA’ Wins Suit Over Control of Songs

In a court ruling with potentially significant implications for the beleaguered music industry, a federal judge in California has dismissed a suit filed by two song publishing companies aimed at preventing Victor Willis, the former lead singer of the 1970’s disco group the Village People, from exercising his right to reclaim hit songs he wrote.

Early last year, Mr. Willis invoked a provision of copyright law called “termination rights,” which gives recording artists and songwriters the ability to reacquire and administer their work themselves after 35 years have elapsed. The song publishers, Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, countered by arguing that Mr. Willis had no legal standing to take that or any other action because he had “no right, title or interest in the copyright” to the songs.

On Monday, Chief Judge Barry T. Moskowitz of Federal District Court in Los Angeles rejected the song publishers’ claim that Mr. Willis was not eligible to reclaim his share of ownership of “YMCA,” whose lyrics he wrote, and 32 other songs recorded by the Village People. The companies had initially argued that Mr. Willis had merely created “works for hire” while, in essence, an employee of the company that managed the group.

The piece continues, if you want to read the whole thing, at

Good for Victor Willis.

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