WASHINGTON--()--The Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) announced in a landmark decision issued today by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Federal Judge Barry Moskowitz upheld the right of Village People songwriter Victor Willis to recapture the copyrights in 33 of his hit songs that include "YMCA" and "In the Navy." Rick Carnes, President of SGA, which filed a brief in the case in support of Willis, said he was "immensely gratified" by the court's decision, noting that, "it will benefit all songwriters seeking to regain their copyrights in the coming years."
“We agree with Willis and SGA....[A] joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate that grant.”
Willis was the joint author of the songs at issue and Scorpio Music, his current publisher, contended that he could not recapture the rights to the songs unless a majority of all the authors joined in the termination request. Judge Moskowitz was definitive in his conclusion regarding the songs Willis transferred to his publisher some 35 years earlier: "We agree with Willis and SGA....[A] joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate that grant."
Carnes stated, "This is a vitally important decision under the so-called 'new' 35 year termination provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. SGA fought hard for the inclusion of the termination right under American law, and a decision that so emphatically endorses Congressional intent to protect creators will hopefully smooth the way for all songwriters seeking to recapture their copyrights."