Tuesday 6 December 2016

Paul McCartney launches bid to reclaim The Beatles' back catalogue 30 years after it was bought by Michael Jackson

Sasha Brady

Published 21/03/2016 | 11:09

The Beatles, pictured receiving their MBEs in 1965.
The Beatles, pictured receiving their MBEs in 1965.
The Beatles
The rise of the Beatles is not the most important event in popular music, experts say

Paul McCartney has begun the process of trying to reclaim publishing rights to The Beatles' back catalogue 30 years after it was purchased by Michael Jackson.

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Although McCartney co-wrote most of the Fab Four's hits, the star has never controlled the publishing.

However, the US copyright act of 1976 gives songwriters the ability to reclaim the rights of their songs, 56 years after they were released.

The Lennon-McCartney catalogue will qualify and become available in 2018, and Sir Paul has recently moved to recapture it.

The rise of the Beatles is not the most important event in popular music, experts say
The rise of the Beatles is not the most important event in popular music, experts say

According to Billboard, the Liverpudlian filed a termination notice for 32 songs with the US Copyright Office in December.

Most of the songs date from 1962 - 1964, although others come from much later in the band's career.

Some of those, including Come Together and Why Don't We Do It In The Road, are not due to become available until 2025.

McCartney is eligible to reclaim only his half of the Lennon-McCartney compositions, and only in the United States.

John Lennon
John Lennon

However, John Lennon’s half of the publishing – all Beatles songs were credited to Lennon-McCartney, regardless of who wrote them – will remain with Sony/ATV which reportedly made a deal with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono.

The deal is said to give the company ownership of John Lennon’s half for the life of the copyright (70 years after the death of McCartney).

McCartney has never before owned the rights to a majority of the music he wrote as a member of The Beatles.

The compositions were originally owned by Northern Songs, the publishing company established by Beatles manager Brian Epstein.

The Beatles in 1967. Photo: PA Wire
The Beatles in 1967. Photo: PA Wire

Following Epstein’s death in 1967, Northern Songs was sold to UK firm ATV Music, despite failed efforts by McCartney and Lennon to regain their rights.

In 1985, Michael Jackson famously purchased ATV Music after having a conversation with McCartney about the value of music publishing. The deal was said to have ended the friendship between the two popstars.

McCartney considered Jackson’s purchase a betrayal of their friendship, as he knew of the former Beatle's own wish to acquire the catalogue.

10 years later, Jackson agreed to a merge ATV with Sony (resulting in Sony/ATV), relinquishing half of his stack in the process.

Touchdown: The Beatles arrive on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin Airport as, from left, George, Ringo, Paul and John lark about on the tarmac before the concert. Photo: www.irishphotoarchive.ie
Touchdown: The Beatles arrive on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin Airport as, from left, George, Ringo, Paul and John lark about on the tarmac before the concert. Photo: www.irishphotoarchive.ie

In 2006, after more financial trouble, Jackson struck another deal with Sony, giving them the rights to 50 per cent of his stake.

Earlier in the month it was revealed that the Jackson estate plan to sell the remaining 50 per cent to Sony for US$750 million (€665million).

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson at the AIR London studio mixing desk in 1983 (handout/PA Wire)
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson at the AIR London studio mixing desk in 1983 (handout/PA Wire)

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