Scorpio Music S.A., et al v. Victor Willis

The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

Sponsored by the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section of the New York State Bar Association
September 26, 2013


The 35-year copyright termination clause within the 1976 Act is a topic that has been discussed industry-wide for some time now; yet with the precedent-setting dismissal of the plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a cause of action that was recently handed down by Chief District Judge Barry Moskowitz of the Southern District of California, many questions have arisen as to the fate of those prominent compositions by Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, the Eagles, and their contemporaries. A quick search for the case will bring up an array of articles about the potential impact of Victor Willis’s seeming ability to recapture copyright in and to 33 of those compositions he co-authored, “Y.M.C.A.” being one of the most notable. What those articles do not reference so often, however, is that despite this, no appeal has yet to be filed, and should Scorpio Music and its co-plaintiffs seek review of the District Court’s determination, it is entirely unclear what will come from the Ninth Circuit.

Should the decision be upheld, the impact on the recording industry may be tremendous, but the impact on other avenues could be even more grandiose, as Mr. Willis has openly stated that one of the things he has learned over the years is that “[y]ou can stop somebody from performing your music if you want to, and I might object to some usages.” From this, the impact on all sorts of publishing (from songs to books), tours, cover bands, venues, and the like, could be disastrous. Only time will tell at this point.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/11/arts/music/a-copyright-victory-35-years-later.html _r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1378856059-G/Ypm+OljGyed7hfaI7slw&

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5687347/village-peoples-victor-willis-wins-copyright-victory

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