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Paul McCartney Sues Sony Over Beatles Songs Copyrights

Musician claims that publisher is holding a recent decision regarding Duran Duran’s music over his head

Paul McCartney thinks Sony has hit a bum note as far as the Beatles song catalog is concerned — and he’s filed a lawsuit over it.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney filed suit on Wednesday against Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Sony/ATV Tunes, claiming that the copyrights to songs he wrote rightfully belong to him.

“This action involves ownership interests in the copyrights for certain musical works that Plaintiff Sir James Paul McCartney (known professionally as Paul McCartney) authored or co-authored with other former members of the world-famous musical group The Beatles,” the suit reads.

The suit notes that McCartney began filing termination notices to reclaim his copyright interest starting in October 2008. According to the suit, the notices will go into effect starting October 5, 2018, and he’s asking for a declaration that the copyrights will revert back to him on the notices’ effective dates.

McCartney wants the rights to songs he wrote with John Lennon between September 1962 and “approximately June 1971.”

According to the suit, the 1976 Copyright Act gives artists such as McCartney, who transferred their copyright interest to third parties prior to 1978, the right to terminate those transfers and reclaim their copyright interests. The suit says that McCartney has the right to terminate the copyright agreements 56 years after the date of the original copyright.

However, the suit claims, Sony/ATV has been trying to use a decision handed down in December, which prevented the band Duran Duran from terminating its copyright agreements, against McCartney.

“Shortly before the Gloucester Place Music decision, Sony/ATV’s executive vice president and head of business affairs, Peter Brodsky, indicated to Paul McCartney’s attorney, Lee Eastman, that Paul McCartney ‘will be more interested in talking’ to Sony/ATV about his copyrights if Sony/ATV were to win the lawsuit with Duran Duran,” the suit reads.

In  a statement to TheWrap, Sony/ATV called McCartney’s lawsuit “both unnecessary and premature.”

“Sony/ATV has the highest respect for Sir Paul McCartney with whom we have enjoyed a long and mutually rewarding relationship with respect to the treasured Lennon & McCartney song catalog,” the publisher said. “We have collaborated closely with both Sir Paul and the late John Lennon’s Estate for decades to protect, preserve and promote the catalog’s long-term value. We are disappointed that they have filed this lawsuit which we believe is both unnecessary and premature.”

McCartney wants it made official that exercising his termination rights “does not represent a breach of any of the Publishing Agreements,” and that the publishing agreements “are unlawful and/or unenforceable against Paul McCartney to the extent that they conflict with Paul McCartney’s Termination Notices.”

Reps for Sony have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment on the suit.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.