After a Long and Winding Road, Beatle Reclaims Publishing Rights

Paul McCartney is using a US Copyright provision to right a wrong he feels occurred many years ago.  As you may recall, the bulk of the Beatles tunes were attributed to the duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  However, in the 1960’s, Paul McCartney and the other Beatles lost their publishing rights to many of their songs when ATV, a publishing company created by the Beatles, their manager and some of their investors, was sold without the knowledge of the band members.

At one time Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow and McCartney tried to purchase ATV for 20 million dollars.  The deal fell through and Michael Jackson purchased ATV for 47.5 million in 1985.  McCartney may now be able to reclaim those rights 56 years later.

Rather than let it be, McCartney filed a “notice of termination” with the US Copyright Office.  This enables a songwriter to reclaim ownership in publishing rights for a song anywhere between 2 to 10 years before the 56 year lapse of time after the publication rights were originally sold.  Some of the songs won’t be eligible for release until the singer is 83. 

What’s the take away here.  Any artist, author or creator of a work protected under copyright law should understand those rights .  In addition, anyone who may have an interest subject to copyright law should think carefully about corporate structure and where the ownership of the intellectual property should be held when forming a new business.  This often takes the form of an IP holding company.  Situations may vary, but who will own the rights in the copyright and how the business will be structured should be well thought out when setting up any business.

 Protecting your innovative developments is critical to any organization.  Having the right person to help you make that decision is important.  The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours keep ahead of the game.   The first telephone consultation is free.  Email us at