On Aug. 14, 1985, Michael Jackson takes control of The Beatles’ publishing rights

On Aug. 14, 1985, Michael Jackson purchased publishing rights for the majority of The Beatles’ catalog for $47 million.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney supposedly advised Jackson to invest some of his money into music publishing while working on their collaboration “Say Say Say.” McCartney had planned to purchase The Beatles’ catalogue himself, but was outbid by the King of Pop.

The move supposedly ended their friendship, though McCartney later said their falling out occurred before the purchase. The rights to The Beatles’ catalog later served as collateral for loans so Jackson could continue leading his extravagant lifestyle as his career declined. He gave up his remaining interest in the catalog to Sony in 2008.

In an interesting twist, starting in 2018, McCartney may be able to get back the rights to some of his Beatles’ songs through the Copyright Act of 1976.


Paul McCartney to regain Beatles back catalogue?

The publishing rights to the majority of McCartney’s Beatles songs will be eligible to be ‘recaptured’ in 2018

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney … Just nine more years and the Beatles’ song rights will be mine! Photograph: Getty Images

Time heals all wounds – and in just nine years, it may even return Paul McCartney‘s publishing rights. According to a clause of the US Copyright Act, many of McCartney’s Beatles songs will be eligible to be “recaptured” in 2018, decades after they were sold to ATV Music and then Michael Jackson.

Though it does not apply in the UK, the United States’ 1976 Copyright Act gives songwriters an avenue for reclaiming lost publishing rights on songs released before 1978. All they have to do is to wait 56 years – meaning that songs like Love Me Do, released in 1962, will be eligible in 2018, while later tracks like Let It Be become available in 2026.

If the songwriters die before the 56-year wait is up, as John Lennon did, their heirs may even be allowed to reclaim publishing rights at an earlier time. In Lennon’s case, an agreement between rights-holders and his widow, Yoko Ono, reportedly superseded the act.

Of course, McCartney’s ability to recapture his rights is by no means guaranteed. Several variables, including agreements made with Lennon, may affect the process – and the songs’ current owners will not hand them over quietly. Still, major rights-holders have had victories in the past, including Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster’s reclamation of the copyright to Superman.

McCartney has spent years bemoaning, mourning and pursuing his lost songwriting rights. Though he has continued to receive performance royalties on Beatles songs – helping him to achieve a reported £440m fortune – McCartney and Lennon’s publishing imprint, Northern Songs, was sold to ATV Music in 1969. ATV was purchased by Michael Jackson in 1985 and was later split 50-50 with Sony. Though Jackson was briefly rumoured to have bequeathed the songs to McCartney, there was ultimately no such provision in the will. Jackson’s remaining holdings in ATV/Sony will instead be passed on to his estate.

Sony/ATV holdings is currently valued at about £1bn.


Sir Paul Mccartney – Sir Paul McCartney wins back tracks from Michael Jackson

by Bang Showbiz | 15 August 2013

Sir Paul McCartney is to win back the rights to his tracks owned by Michael Jackson as under the Copyright Act, any content penned before 1878 becomes the property of the songwriter after 56 years.

Sir Paul McCartney is to win back the rights to his tracks owned by Michael Jackson.

The Beatles frontman fell out with the ‘Thriller’ hitmaker after he lost ownership of his songs over 30 years ago, but under the 1976 US Copyright Act, any content penned before 1978 becomes the property of the songwriter after 56 years.

The 71-year-old singer – who is worth more than £485 million – will be able to collect royalties and licensing money in five years time and then he’ll be able to pull in more songs each year, meaning that he’ll regain the majority of the band’s back catalogue by 2026.

Sir Paul – who teamed up with the ‘King of Pop’ in 1983 for hit ‘Say Say Say’ – ended his friendship with Michael after he outbid him in a Sony records deal and bought the band’s music content for £31 million.

An insider told The Sun newspaper: ”Paul’s been fuming for decades. It’s as much personal as business. Now he’ll get back what’s rightfully his.”

McCartney previously admitted he can sometimes lose his way on stage and forgets to concentrate because he gets too involved with the music.

He told Q magazine: ”It’s scary, because sometimes I suddenly wake up in the middle of a show and think, ‘Concentrate man! Come on, you’ve got an audience here!’.”Contactmusic


How Paul McCartney and John Lennon Lost Ownership Of The Beatles Catalogue

In 1982 Michael Jackson flew to England to record the song “Say, Say, Say” with former Beatle Paul McCartney at the famous Abbey Road studio. This was the second musical collaboration between Paul and Michael, the first being 1981′s “The Girl is Mine” which was featured on Jackson’s smash hit album “Thriller”. While working on “Say, Say, Say”, Paul invited Michael to stay with him and his wife Linda at their home in suburban London. One fateful night, after the three finished dinner, Paul took out a thick leather bookl and laid it out on the dining room table. This particular book listed every song and publishing right that Paul had acquired over the last 10 years. He made it clear to Michael that owning publishing rights was the only way to make really big money in the music industry. Paul further bragged that in the last year alone, he had earned approximately $40 million off his music catalogue.

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