Paul McCartney Is Trying to Get Back the Rights to His Beatles Songs

Paul McCartney Performs At O2 Arena In London
Photograph by Jim Dyson—Getty Images

Paul McCartney might finally get his hands on the Lennon-McCartney song catalog—56 years after the songs in it were originally published.

Billboard reports that, as of last December, the former Beatles frontman has put in action a long-term plan to buy back the rights to his and John Lennon’s songs.


To backtrack a bit: The catalog, until recently, was jointly owned by Sony and the Michael Jackson estate-owned ATV Music Publishing. Last week, Sony announced that it would be buying out the Jackson estate’s 50% share in the venture, giving it full ownership over the catalog.

While Sony now owns the rights to all songs in the catalog, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 gives songwriters the ability to reclaim ownership of their songs. For songs written before 1978, they can do so after 56 years; on or after 1978, the deadline decreases to 35 years.

Because most Beatles songs were written in the Sixties and early Seventies, the 56-year rule applies, with the earliest-written songs beginning to become available for McCartney to reclaim in 2018.

Copyright law is tricky, but suffice it to say that the 73-year-old McCartney is ready to Get Back what’s his.

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