Many people think of Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney as being friends as well as music collaborators, but the truth is that the Beatles star has had a beef with MJ since the 1980s — and Paul is finally settling the score by filing a court paperwork with Sony and ATV in mind.
According to Hollywood Reporter, Paul McCartney has officially filed a court order against Sony/ATV for the rights to his songs with The Beatles following Michael Jackson’s $750 million sale to the company.
While it seems at first that Paul McCartney will be attempting to purchase his old songs from Michael Jackson’s collection that is now owned by Sony/ATV, this lawsuit hinges around copyright laws.
For this reason alone, Paul McCartney’s attempt to finally get his music back from Michael Jackson’s purchase could be one of the biggest celebrity lawsuits to watch in 2017.
Oddly, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney were once very close friends. In 1983, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney topped the charts with “Say, Say, Say,” and had several other collaborations, but this mood would soon sour.
In 1985, Michael Jackson got a chance to buy the rights to songs, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, and he immediately picked up about 200 songs by Paul McCartney from when he was with the Beatles including “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “Yesterday.”
The irony of the situation is that Michael Jackson got this business advice from Paul McCartney about how profitable owning the rights to songs can be. Regardless, when interviewed in October 2001, Paul McCartney said that, although he contacted Michael Jackson twice in writing, MJ refused to sell The Beatles songs back to their creators after they were purchased in 1985.
ABC quoted Paul McCartney talking about the situation in 2001, and he stated Michael Jackson, “won’t even answer my letters, so we haven’t talked and we don’t have that great a relationship.” In person, Michael Jackson told Paul McCartney that buying his songs and not giving them back was “just business.”
For this reason, Paul McCartney felt humiliated by Michael Jackson — especially when he had to pay MJ for performing Beatles songs. For instance, the licensing fee for a Paul McCartney song to play in a television show is as much as $250,000, according to Independent.
According to Billboard, Michael Jackson bought the 200-plus Beatles songs from ATV in 1985 for $47.5 million. At the time, Paul McCartney was dismayed because he also lost out on buying the rights to his own songs in 1969 when Northern Songs sold them to ATV.
Unfortunately, when Michael Jackson died in 2009, Paul McCartney fans were hoping that the rights to his songs would be in MJ’s will, but this did not come to fruition, according to Guardian.
Now, Paul McCartney is filing a lawsuit about those Michael Jackson songs sold to Sony/ATV in order to get ready for 2018. The reason Paul McCartney is focused on this particular year is because it is the 56-year copyright expiration for many of the songs McCartney wrote with The Beatles.
The copyright law in question that Paul McCartney hopes to use to his advantage is the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. In the legal language of the law, it states that songwriters that wrote songs before 1978 can regain the rights to their songs after 56 years. For songwriters that published after 1978, that copyright expires after 35 years.
The tricky part with Paul McCartney’s lawsuit for the songs Michael Jackson owned is reclaiming ownership. For example, before the 56-year mark arrives, the original songwriter will need to file paperwork with the U.S. Copyright Office.
If deadlines are not met correctly, Paul McCartney will need to wait another five years before re-filing for the rights to his own music published between 1962 and 1964.
Sadly, legal woes may follow Paul McCartney after he resolves issues with Michael Jackson or Sony/ATV having legal control over his music catalog.
For example, Paul McCartney may have a potential spat with John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, about her 70-year copyright ownership deal with Sony/ATV for music Paul co-wrote with John, according to BBC.
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