Village People star Victor Willis is facing a court battle to regain the rights to some of the disco group's biggest hits.
Singer/songwriter Willis, who portrayed a traffic cop in the band, left the line-up in 1979. He filed suit earlier this year (11) to claim back ownership of tracks such as Y.M.C.A. under a U.S. copyright provision which can be activated after 35 years.
But executives at France-based Scorpio Music and its American affiliate Can't Stop Productions are fighting the legal action, alleging Willis is not entitled to the rights because he was employed as "a writer for hire" and "therefore has no rights" to any ownership share of the songs.
The defendants' lawyer, Stewart L. Levy tells the New York Times, "This is totally different and outside the scope of these termination rights issues.
"The Village People were a concept group, created by my clients, who picked the people and the costumes... We hired this guy. He was an employee, we gave them the material and a studio to record in and controlled what was recorded, where, what hours and what they did."
Willis has not performed with the Village People since 1984.