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Beatles and EMI settle their royalties battle

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 12 Apr 2007 21:15 User comments (8)

Beatles and EMI settle their royalties battle Yesterday, the Beatles and the music giant EMI agreed to finally settle their dispute over royalties the band believed were owed to them.
This move has fans hoping now that the Beatles catalogue will become available on iTunes.

The dispute dates back to 2005 when the living Beatles and the widows of the deceased Beatles sued EMI claiming that they were owed $60 million USD in missing royalties from sales dating between 1994 and 1999.

Although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, an EMI spokesperson confirmed the settlement, "I can confirm that we have reached a mutually acceptable settlement and that we are not going to say anything more than that."

We hope that with this hurdle jumped, the Beatles music can finally move legally into the 21st century.


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8 user comments

113.4.2007 9:10

Last time I checked Beatles music was all over P2P...

213.4.2007 9:42

last i checked, that wasnt legal...

313.4.2007 10:53

Can they sell songs that Michael Jackson owns the rights to?

413.4.2007 12:16

Michael Jackson owns rights to Beatles' songs?

513.4.2007 14:43

Yeah, but what about the Little Rascals royalties??? When will we recognize that that issue is MOOT, too? No one listens to the Beatles any more.

613.4.2007 19:02

Michael Jackson owns rights to Beatles' songs?
yea it pissed Paul off.

714.4.2007 2:51

Originally posted by Steve83:
Yeah, but what about the Little Rascals royalties??? When will we recognize that that issue is MOOT, too? No one listens to the Beatles any more.
We'll see when they hit iTunes if you are right about that.

814.4.2007 3:47

Don't know why people still think Jacko owns all the beatles songs, Sony (scumbags) own a percentage of 'em....


Published: November 8, 1995 New York Times

Michael Jackson, the singer, sold the music publishing rights to about 250 Beatles songs yesterday to the Sony Corporation for $95 million. A new publishing venture will combine Sony's music publishing division with Mr. Jackson's ATV Music catalogue to create a business valued at $500 million. In addition to the Beatles songs, Mr. Jackson's catalogue includes songs performed by Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Publishing rights to Mr. Jackson's own songs were not included in the deal. A spokesman for Mr. Jackson did not return a telephone call seeking comment. He bought ATV in 1985 for about $47.5 million.
The item needs qualifying, because on it's own it is rather misleading...

Michael Jackson owns the rights to the Beatles' songs?

First off, when we talk about someone owning the "rights" to songs, what we're discussing are publishing rights. Typically, songwriters assign the publishing rights for their songs to music publishing companies, who perform a number of marketing and promotional services to generate revenue for the songwriters they represent:

* Exploitation: One of the more important functions of song publishers is "plugging" songs -- getting artists interested in recording a songwriter's work. Your song doesn't make any money if nobody uses it, and song plugging was an especially important aspect of the publishing business prior to the 1960s, when many songwriters were not also performers and primarily supplied tunes for other singers.

* Licensing: Music publishers also administer the granting and collection of royalties for various types of licenses:

o Mechanical licenses: Songwriters receive royalties whenever someone sells recorded versions of their songs. If a songwriter records his own work, he receives royalties from his record label; if someone else records a cover version of his song, the songwriter receives royalties from that artist's record label.

o Synchronization licenses: Songwriters receive royalties when their songs are sychronized to visual images, typically for use in films, television programs, and commercials.

o Print licenses: Songwriters receive royalties for the sale of their songs in printed form, generally either as sheet music or entries in songbooks. Publishers who wish to quote or include song lyrics in a printed work must also obtain permission (and negotiate fees) with whoever holds the publishing rights to those songs.

o Performing rights licenses: Songwriters receive royalties when their songs are performed live for profit or broadcast on the radio, although these licenses are usually administered by performing rights societies such as ASCAP or BMI rather than publishing companies themselves.

The key point here is that holding the publishing rights to songs doesn't really give the rightsholder much Blue publishing meanies!"power" over those songs. The rightsholder has some latitude in negotiating royalty rates and determining who may use a song in film or print its lyrics, but that's about it. The chief benefit to owning the publishing rights of songs is that standard publishing agreements call for royalties to be split 50-50 between the publisher and the songwriter(s), so owning the publishing rights to popular songs can be a lucrative form of income.

The Beatles assigned their publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and music publisher Dick James in 1963. The Beatles (particularly John Lennon and Paul McCartney) were soon earning so much money from songwriting royalties, record sales, concert performances, and merchandise licensing that they were losing over 90% of their income in taxes, and they were advised to find a way of receiving their revenue in the form of capital gains rather than income (the former being taxed at a much lower rate), such as selling their song rights or putting their money into a public company. The Beatles opted for the latter route, and Northern Songs went public on the London Stock Exchange in 1965. Initially, Lennon and McCartney each retained 15% of the shares, George Harrison and Ringo Starr held 1.6% between them, Brian Epstein's NEMS company was assigned 7.5%, and Dick James and Charles Silver (Northern Songs' chairman) retained a total of 37.5%. In 1969, however, the Beatles lost a buyout bid for control of Northern Songs when Dick James and Charles Silver sold their share of the company to Sir Lew Grade, head of Associated Television Corporation (ATV).

In 1984, ATV's 4,000-song music catalog was put up for sale, and Michael Jackson (who had coincidentally been introduced to the benefits of song ownership by Paul McCartney himself) eventually outbid all other prospective buyers for it, including Paul McCartney, who wanted to buy back the rights to the Beatles' songs but was apparently unable or unwilling to raise enough money to pay for the thousands of other songs in the ATV catalog as well. So, for $47.5 million, Jackson acquired the publishing rights to most of the Beatles songs. (The four songs issued on the Beatles' first two singles -- "Love Me Do" b/w "P.S. I Love You" and "Please Please Me" b/w "Ask Me Why" -- were not part of the package since they were published before the formation of Northern Songs, and the rights to those songs are now controlled by McCartney's MPL Communications. ATV also did not own the rights to George Harrison songs published after Harrison's songwriting contract with Northern Songs expired in 1968, but they did hold the rights to various other Lennon-McCartney songs not recorded by the Beatles.)

Another key point here is that although Michael Jackson receives 50% of the royalties generated by Beatles songs by virtue of his ownership of the publishing rights, Paul McCartney and John Lennon (and Lennon's estate, now that he's dead) have always received their 50% songwriter's share of the royalties for all Lennon-McCartney songs. Neither ATV's nor Michael Jackson's acquisition of Northern Songs changed that, and Michael Jackson does not now receive royalties that would otherwise be going to the Beatles had he not acquired the publishing rights to their songs (except that, obviously, if Paul McCartney had managed to outbid Jackson for the publishing rights to the Beatles catalog, he and Lennon's estate would be splitting 100% of the royalties rather than 50%).

As a closing note, we should mention that Sony Corp. paid Michael Jackson $95 million in 1995 to merge ATV with Sony and form Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a 50-50 joint venture, so it's probably more correct to say that Jackson now owns half the rights to the Beatles catalog.
this years developments?

and from that deal..
In 1995, he was forced to sell part ownership of the catalogue, valued at 750 million, to his former record company Sony and used his remaning share as security for loans.

The deal with Sony stipulated that if he was unable to pay the loans back he would have be required to sell the company the remainder of the catalogue by May 31 2008.
The argument between The Beatles and EMI has been all over the licensing and rights to the Apple trademark, and other such things as owned by Apple corp.. which seems to only exist to be a legal pain in the a$$. So it is finally resolved? Let's watch for a few years and see if Apple Corp start mithering again.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Apr 2007 @ 4:08

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