Back in January, Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit that sought to reclaim his copyright ownership of The Beatles songs he co-wrote with John Lennon, the culmination of a process that began in March of last year.
Now, The Hollywood Reporter brings word that McCartney and Sony have settled. “The parties have resolved this matter by entering into a confidential settlement agreement and jointly request that the Court enter the enclosed proposed order dismissing the above-referenced action without prejudice,” wrote McCartney’s attorney Michael Jacobs in a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos. What the actual settlement entails is still unknown.
Technically, this all began back in the ’80s, when McCartney advised Michael Jackson to invest in song publishing rights. Jackson ended up buying ATV, which owned the Lennon-McCartney catalog. Sony and ATV eventually merged, with Sony gaining rights to half the songs. Sony then acquired the rest from Jackson’s estate in early 2016. Citing the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, McCartney has argued he’s due to reacquire the songs in 2018, but that Sony is refusing to confirm that they would transfer the song copyrights without a legal dispute.
Even if McCartney has come out on top here, Sony/ATV still owns the rights to Lennon’s portion of the rights for the lifetime of the copyright — which is 70 years after McCartney’s death.