Village People - Victor Willis Scores Major Legal Victory In Song Rights Battle
Village People star Victor Willis has scored a major legal victory after a California judge dismissed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the singer's bid to reclaim the rights to more than 30 of the disco group's tunes.
Singer/songwriter Willis, who portrayed a traffic cop in the band, left the line-up in 1979 and transferred his rights to 33 tracks, including Y.M.C.A. and In the Navy, to his publisher.
However, after experiencing a change of heart, the singer last year (11) invoked a U.S. copyright provision, which can be activated after 35 years, and filed suit to win back ownership of the tunes.
Executives at France-based Scorpio Music and its American affiliate Can't Stop Productions hit back at the legal action, alleging Willis was not entitled to the rights because he was employed as "a writer for hire" and "therefore has no rights" to any ownership over the songs.
They withdrew that claim in March (12), and on Monday (07May12) federal judge Barry Ted Moskowitz ruled in Willis' favour and rejected the suit, saying, "The Court concludes that a joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate the grant."
And the star was thrilled by the ruling - his publicist Linda Smythe adds, "To say this decision will send shock waves through the record industry (as) artists (are) seeking to take back their copyrights is an understatement."