We’ve written many times about the issue of termination rights in copyright. Under the Copyright Act that went into effect in 1978, artists have a “termination right” to basically take back their copyright from whomever they assigned it to, 35 years after the works were created. Artists cannot contract that right away. It’s inalienable. Of course, it’s 2013, and as you may have noticed, that’s 35 years after 1978. There are a variety of legal fights going on, as copyright holders (generally large gatekeeper companies) are fighting to stop the termination rights. One of the first key cases on this involved The Village People’s Victor Willis, who initially scored an initial victory last year. Of course, the legal fight went on. The NY Times, however, is reporting that Willis himself is now claiming victory, but the details are lacking, and the lawyer for the record labels denies Willis’ claim, noting that there’s still an appeal to be heard.
That said, what struck me as more interesting — but no less troubling — is the gleeful manner in which it appears Willis is preparing to use his new copyright powers (if he actually gets them) to make the current version of The Village People stop performing the band’s classic songs….