Village People Back in the News with Copyright Lawsuit

Dec 21, 2011 - LegalZoom News Source
Victor Willis is only one of the many co-authors for the Village People, which also includes Randy Jones, the original cowboy of the group.

Victor Willis of the Village People recently attempted to terminate copyright grants on 32 of the popular music group’s songs, including its smash hit, “Y.M.C.A.”

In the lawsuit, the courts will have to decide whether or not copyright protections on a song created by several co-authors or co-writers can be terminated by one of them, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Willis, who was the original lead singer for the Village People, is one of several members in the band.

Paperwork was filed so that Willis could regain rights to 32 of the group’s songs from Scorpio Music and Can’t Stop Productions, the companies that administer the publishing rights. Scorpio and Can’t Stop, however, filed a lawsuit against Willis, saying that his actions improperly exploited a provision of the U.S. Copyright Act, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Willis’ suit is likely one of many to be seen in the near future. In 1978, copyright was limited to 35 years for record companies. This means 2013 will be the first year when musicians can put their terminations into place to regain copyrights to their work from record labels.

The decision for Willis’ lawsuit will likely impact how future copyright lawsuits with multiple authors will be determined.