Monday, February 11, 2013
In Dispute Over Ray Charles Songs, Family Gains Victory in Court; New York Times, 1/30/13
Ben Sisario, New York Times; In Dispute Over Ray Charles Songs, Family Gains Victory in Court: "A dispute between the children of Ray Charles and the foundation to which he left most of his money is the latest battleground in one of the entertainment industry’s most contentious issues: the “termination rights” that allow artists and their families to recover the copyrights to their work from third parties like record companies or publishers. Last week a federal judge in California ruled that the Ray Charles Foundation cannot interfere with the efforts of seven of Charles’s 12 surviving children to recover the music publishing rights to about 60 of his classic songs, like “I Got a Woman,” “Hallelujah I Love Her So” and “Mary Ann.”... The case combines the drama of a family fight over a celebrity’s legacy with a detail of United States copyright law that poses a threat to the entertainment industry. An amendment to the law that took effect in 1978 let artists recover rights to their work after 35 years; the rule also applied to works copyrighted before 1978, but after a maximum of 56 years. Artists can do this by officially “terminating” the agreements that had transferred the work to other parties."