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OFF BEAT: McCartney to regain rights to Beatles songs


It may well be that love is all you need, but having the publishing rights to some of the most recognizable pop songs ever written probably doesn’t hurt either.

Paul McCartney will regain control of the publishing rights to the Beatles’ catalogue of more than 250 songs, thanks to a clause in the U.S. Copyright Act, according to a report by the London Daily Mail.

Mr. McCartney and his former bandmates — primarily John Lennon — lost the legal rights to collect royalties and licensing fees from the songs in 1968, when they were outbid for control of the catalogue by ATV Music Publishing, the Daily Mail reported.

The company was purchased in 1984 by Michael Jackson — a former collaborator with Mr. McCartney — for a reported $46 million and later merged with Sony Music Entertainment. Under the terms of the merger, Sony paid Mr. Jackson a reported $95 million for 50% control of the Beatles catalogue, according to the Daily Mail.

Mr. Jackson maintained joint ownership of the catalogue until his death in 2009, at which point Sony/ATV assumed control of his stake in the songs.

However, under the U.S. Copyright Act, the rights to songs published prior to 1978 revert back to the original songwriter after 56 years. That means that beginning in 2016, Mr. McCartney will be able to collect royalties and licensing fees for songs he wrote as a member of the Beatles, who last recorded together in 1970.