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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has begun the process of regaining control of his share of the US publishing rights in the Beatles’ catalogue. The publishing is currently owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, but US law allows living artists to apply to take back the right 56 years after initial publication, meaning the Lennon-McCartney catalogue becomes available in 2018.

Billboard reports that McCartney began the process to taking control of his half of the Beatles publishing on 15 December 2015. Under the US copyright act of 1976, songwriter must file a claim with the copyright office two to 10 years before the 56 years elapse. McCartney filed a termination notice for 32 songs at the end of last year. However, John Lennon’s half of the publishing – all their songs were credited to Lennon-McCartney, regardless of who wrote them – will remain with Sony/ATV which reportedly made a deal with Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

The Beatles lost control of their publishing early on. The company Northern Songs was founded by Lennon, McCartney, their manager Brian Epstein and publisher Dick James in 1963, James, however, sold his stake to the UK firm Associated Television (ATV) in 1969, and Lennon and McCartney failed in an attempt to regain their rights. Another attempt by the music manager Allen Klein to set up a deal for the Beatles’ Apple Corps to buy out ATV also failed.

Michael Jackson bought ATV Music for $47.5m (£33m) in 1985, which was reputed to have soured his friendship with McCartney, and merged his catalogue with Sony in 1995, for a payment of around £59m, resulting in the formation of Sony/ATV. In 2006, in financial trouble, Jackson struck a further deal with Sony, giving the former the right to buy his half of Sony/ATV. It was finally announced last week that the Jackson estate was to sell its 50% stake to Sony for $750m.